During his holiday remarks at Mount Rushmore, President Trump said he plans to establish, via executive order, a “National Garden of American Heroes,” described as “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.”
It seems a lot of thought has already gone into it — enough to already have produced site and content specifications. There are still unresolved questions though, and some of those specs appear to be … well, perhaps just a little subjective. So, before handing out the funds, revving up the bulldozers, and introducing the chiselers, how about a bit more thought?
Garden of American Heroes has a Garden of Earthly Delights kind of ring to it. That’s not to say it sounds bad, but like Bosch’s garden, the Trump garden will likely be subject to ongoing controversy and interpretation. So, taking a cue from Mr. Bosch’s vision which is depicted on three separate panels, the American Heroes garden might do try something similar: a layout of three separate areas. It will help quell inevitable dispute. The areas would be comparable to the “In God we trust” concepts of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Those honorees that helped make America what it is today, but were unfortunately host to irredeemable impulses would initially be stationed in the Hell sector (maybe someone like Andrew Johnson). The really good players with hardly a fault would reside in the Heaven sector (maybe someone like Mr. Rogers). The rest; all those with somewhat dubious credentials would find comfortable residence in the Purgatory area. It could also be mandated that all statuary be constructed on wheels and easily rolled from one sector to another. Depending on political climate, Daniel Boone, the Lone Ranger, or Ronald Reagan could easily be moved from Hell (just an example) to Purgatory, or whichever area is deemed most appropriate. Nothing need be toppled or destroyed — when the reigning political climate changes, they could be simply moved accordingly. There would be hardly a disruption, and repeat visitors would always have something different to see.
Section 1: “These statues are silent teachers in solid form of stone and metal.” Why stone or metal? Why use material that could better be put to use in building something useful like the National Wall? There’s so much plastic/latex floating around: empty water bottles, shopping bags, discarded covid-19 gloves, used condoms, etc. . Why not specify plastic waste as the statuary material? It’s moldable, lasts forever, and its re-use would help clean up the environment.
Section 1: “My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory.” It’s been three years already. You do know we can see and hear, right?
Section 3-c-iii: Statues should depict historically significant Americans … opponents of national socialism or international socialism.” Sorry, Bernie, sorry most Democrats. I think this means you’re out (your humanitarian cause is apparently deemed worse than treason).
Section 3-c-iii: None will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying.” Congratulations, President Trump – I think this means like what you said before: “There were fine people on both sides.” (You name them – it’s whoever you want it to be.)
Section 3-c-v: “The National Garden should be located on a site of natural beauty that enables visitors to enjoy nature, walk among the statues, and be inspired to learn about great figures of America’s history.”
It’s still to be determined, but some possibilities almost suggest themselves. Liberty Island might be appropriate if reconfigured to provide more room. The present space-hogging statute depicts no real person, it wasn’t made in America, and its beaming presence has become anathema to national directive. Its removal would provide room to commemorate real American heroes; real heroes like John Wayne or Antonin Scalia. The salvaged material could find redemption if melted down and reused as material in building the National Wall. And there’s also this: if reconstituted as suggested, it could then be said to have greeted visitors on two different borders!
Another location worthy of consideration is in Kentucky, near Arc Encounter (not far from Williamstown). The two attractions in close proximity would offer visitors a dual opportunity, just like Walt Disney World and SeaWorld. As with Orlando’s double attraction, the venues would be unrelated, but equally attractive to visitors. A location there would also find quick appropriations from Senate Leader McConnell (and the leader would likely find a place in the Garden).
El Paso, Texas might provide another favorable site. Visitors would have access to city accommodations, and as special bonus, a view of the National Wall. The Wall could, in fact, become a major part of the attraction – just like The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Aside from merely seeing it first hand, visitors could be invited to post messages or prayers on the wall, as they do in the Old City. (“Thank you Jesus for letting me be born on the righteous side.” or “Thank you President Trump for erecting this awesome wall that will keep the undeserving and the undesirable out.”) After a prayer of thanks, visitors could then walk through the Garden of American Heroes and honor the folks whose bravery and vision provided the inspiration that propels our great country forward in building the courageous wall of freedom just visited.
Section 4-b: “…. particular preference for statues of the Founding Fathers, former Presidents of the United States, leading abolitionists, and individuals involved in the discovery of America.” Congratulations President Trump — I think this means you (you’re on the inside track).
Section 7: “The term ‘historically significant American’ means an individual who was, or became, an American citizen and was a public figure who made substantive contributions to America’s public life or otherwise had a substantive effect on America’s history. The phrase also includes public figures such as Christopher Columbus, Junipero Serra, and the Marquis de La Fayette, who lived prior to or during the American Revolution and were not American citizens, but who made substantive historical contributions to the discovery, development, or independence of the future United States.” Sorry, Native Americans – I think this means anyone but you.