President Donald Trump announced during a speech in front of Mount Rushmore on Friday an executive order to establish a “National Garden of American Heroes” featuring statues of “historically significant Americans.”
The executive order includes a list of former American presidents and historical figures to feature – with Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, and Billy Graham among them.
Trump’s effort to build more statues comes as protesters across the U.S. have torn down statues in protest of police violence against Black people in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May.
Trump has condemned the protesters tearing down statues, which have included Robert. E. Lee and Christopher Columbus, among others, and signed a separate order in June to provide long prison sentences to people who remove or vandalize statues and other historical monuments.
In his speech Friday in South Dakota, Trump said protesters were “determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.” The executive order also mentions efforts to tear down statues.
“To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance,” the order says. “These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory.”
The National Garden will include but is not limited to the figures mentioned in the order. The order stipulates that the Garden should include “historically significant Americans,” who “contributed positively to America throughout our history,” offering Founding Fathers, abolitionists, religious leaders, police officers “killed or injured in the line of duty,” and “opponents of national socialism or international socialism” as some examples.
The order further clarifies that any “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” is eligible, including Columbus and Junipero Serra. Both Columbus and Serra, who are cited in the executive order, have been subjects of removal for protesters.
The order states that none of the Garden’s figures “will have lived perfect lives, but all will be worth honoring, remembering, and studying.”
A task force from the Department of the Interior will be responsible for adhering to these guidelines, as well as choosing the park’s location, according to the order. The order’s aim is open the garden to the public in time for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026.
The full list of historical figures featured in the executive order are included below:
Susan B. Anthony
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Martin Luther King, Jr.
George S. Patton, Jr.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Booker T. Washington
Orville and Wilbur Wright