Donald Trump unveils plan for his ‘garden of heroes’ but no location

President Donald Trump wants to put his stamp on the nation’s historical memory by signing an order with just hours left in his presidency for a ‘Garden of American Heroes’ that would pull together a hodgepodge of figures including Thomas Jefferson, Kobe Bryant, Grover Cleveland, and Alex Trebek.

The executive order contains no funding nor even information on a location where the garden would be constructed – assuming successor Joe Biden wants to proceed with the project that Trump first revealed as pushback against street protests.

Trump first announced the idea after summer protests following the death of George Floyd. He laced the order issued Monday with rhetoric blasting ‘dangerous anti-American extremism that seeks to dismantle our country’s history, institutions, and very identity.’

‘The heroes of 1776 have been desecrated, with statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin vandalized and toppled,’ he said in the order. 

He did not mention the events of January 6, when a MAGA mob invaded the Capitol and his supporters smashed windows, broke into the House and Senate chamber, and some climbed statues and posed with statues – covering some in Trump paraphernalia.

There were still more startling images last week, as U.S. National Guard troops brought in to protect the Capitol slept around statues of Abraham Lincoln and other heroes. 

The order identifies dozens of specific people in American history and culture who would be honored in the sculpture garden.

It had been trailed in the summer as an anti-woke effort, and in some respects delivered, offering the spectacle of a sculpture garden which would – if ever built – see Andrew Jackson, the president who started the Trail of Tears, represented alongside Sitting Bull Joseph; slave owner – and father of slaves – Thomas Jefferson memorialized alongside Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman; and William Buckley, the conservative writer, alongside Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The oldest of the ‘heroes’ is Christopher Columbus, an Italian in the service of the Spanish king who never set foot on what is now the United States, although he did ‘discover’ Puerto Rico. His statutes became a center of contention in the wake of Black Lives Matters protest last summer with Trump railing against attacks on them.

Christopher Columbus didn't make it to the continental U.S., but would make it into the hero garden despite falling out of favor in U.S. education due to the genocide that his brave discoveries unleashed

Christopher Columbus didn't make it to the continental U.S., but would make it into the hero garden despite falling out of favor in U.S. education due to the genocide that his brave discoveries unleashed

President George Washington, who has the nation's capital city and a state named after him, would get a sculpture in the garden

President George Washington, who has the nation's capital city and a state named after him, would get a sculpture in the garden

President George Washington, who has the nation’s capital city and a state named after him, would get a sculpture in the garden

saving space in my garden for you - Singer Whitney Houston is also listed in the executive order

saving space in my garden for you - Singer Whitney Houston is also listed in the executive order

saving space in my garden for you – Singer Whitney Houston is also listed in the executive order

Trump issued the order with just days left in office

Trump issued the order with just days left in office

Trump issued the order with just days left in office

WHO MADE THE CUT TO BE IN TRUMP’S ‘GARDEN OF HEROES’

Ansel Adams

John Adams

Samuel Adams 

Muhammad Ali

Luis Walter Alvarez

Susan B. Anthony 

Hannah Arendt

Louis Armstrong

Neil Armstrong

Crispus Attucks

John James Audubon

Lauren Bacall

Clara Barton

Todd Beamer 

Alexander Graham Bell

Roy Benavidez

Ingrid Bergman

Irving Berlin

Humphrey Bogart

Daniel Boone

Norman Borlaug

William Bradford

Herb Brooks

Kobe Bryant

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Sitting Bull

Frank Capra

Andrew Carnegie 

Charles Carroll

John Carroll

George Washington Carver

Johnny Cash

Joshua Chamberlain

Whittaker Chambers

Johnny ‘Appleseed’ Chapman

Ray Charles

Julia Child

Gordon Chung-Hoon

William Clark

Henry Clay

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Roberto Clemente

Grover Cleveland

Red Cloud

William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody

Nat King Cole

Samuel Colt

Christopher Columbus

Calvin Coolidge

James Fenimore Cooper

 Davy Crockett

Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.

Miles Davis

Dorothy Day

Joseph H. De Castro

Emily Dickinson

Walt Disney

William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan

Jimmy Doolittle

Desmond Doss 

 Frederick Douglass

 Herbert Henry Dow

 Katharine Drexel

Peter Drucker

Amelia Earhart

Thomas Edison

Jonathan Edwards

Albert Einstein

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 Duke Ellington

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Medgar Evers

David Farragut

Marquis de La Fayette

Mary Fields

Henry Ford

George Fox

Aretha Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Milton Friedman

Robert Frost

Gabby Gabreski

Bernardo de Gálvez

Lou Gehrig

Theodor Seuss Geisel 

Cass Gilbert

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 John Glenn

Barry Goldwater

Samuel Gompers

Alexander Goode

Carl Gorman

Billy Graham

Ulysses S. Grant

Nellie Gray

Nathanael Greene

 Woody Guthrie

Nathan Hale

William Frederick ‘Bull’ Halsey, Jr.

Alexander Hamilton

Ira Hayes

Hans Christian Heg

Ernest Hemingway

Patrick Henry

Charlton Heston

Alfred Hitchcock

Billie Holiday

Bob Hope

Johns Hopkins

Grace Hopper

Sam Houston

Whitney Houston

Julia Ward Howe

Edwin Hubble

Daniel Inouye

Andrew Jackson

Robert H. Jackson

Mary Jackson

John Jay

Thomas Jefferson

Steve Jobs

Katherine Johnson

Barbara Jordan 

 Chief Joseph

Elia Kazan

Helen Keller

John F. Kennedy

Francis Scott Key

Coretta Scott King

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Russell Kirk

Jeane Kirkpatrick

Henry Knox

Tadeusz Kościuszko

Harper Lee

Pierre Charles L’Enfant

Meriwether Lewis

Abraham Lincoln

Vince Lombardi

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Clare Boothe Luce

Douglas MacArthur 

Dolley Madison

James Madison 

George Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

William Mayo

Christa McAuliffe

William McKinley

Louise McManus

Herman Melville

Thomas Merton

George P. Mitchell

Maria Mitchell

William ‘Billy’ Mitchell

 Samuel Morse

Lucretia Mott

John Muir

Audie Murphy

Edward Murrow

John Neumann

Annie Oakley

Jesse Owens

Rosa Parks

George S. Patton, Jr.

Charles Willson Peale

 William Penn

Oliver Hazard Perry

John J. Pershing

Edgar Allan Poe

Clark Poling

John Russell Pope

Elvis Presley

Jeannette Rankin

Ronald Reagan

Walter Reed

William Rehnquist

Paul Revere

Henry Hobson Richardson

Hyman Rickover

Sally Ride

Matthew Ridgway

Jackie Robinson

Norman Rockwell

Caesar Rodney 

Eleanor Roosevelt 

 Franklin D. Roosevelt  

Jonas Salk

John Singer Sargent

Antonin Scalia

Norman Schwarzkopf

Junípero Serra

Elizabeth Ann Seton

Robert Gould Shaw

Fulton Sheen

Alan Shepard

Frank Sinatra

Margaret Chase Smith

Bessie Smith

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Jimmy Stewart

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Gilbert Stuart

Anne Sullivan

William Howard Taft

Maria Tallchief

Maxwell Taylor

Tecumseh

Kateri Tekakwitha

Shirley Temple

Nikola Tesla

Jefferson Thomas

Henry David Thoreau

Jim Thorpe

Augustus Tolton

Alex Trebek

Harry S. Truman

Sojourner Truth

Harriet Tubman

Dorothy Vaughan

C. T. Vivian

John von Neumann

Thomas Ustick Walter

Sam Walton

Booker T. Washington

George Washington

John Washington

John Wayne

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Phillis Wheatley

Walt Whitman

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Roger Williams

John Winthrop

Frank Lloyd Wright

 Orville Wright

Wilbur Wright

Alvin C. York

Cy Young

Lorenzo de Zavala

Theodore Roosevelt

Betsy Ross

Babe Ruth

Sacagawea  

 

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President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday for a 'garden of heroes' that would include figures from American history and popular culture

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday for a 'garden of heroes' that would include figures from American history and popular culture

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday for a ‘garden of heroes’ that would include figures from American history and popular culture

Others died recently, like longtime ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek, who passed in November, and basketball great Kobe Bryant, who died tragically in a helicopter accident in May.  

Some have a personal connection to the president, like Whitney Houston, who was photographed with him in the 80s. 

But the central organizing theme may be the lack of an organizing theme.

The list includes some Democrats, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Despite her dying wish, Trump and the GOP Senate rushed to confirm Ginsburg’s successor, Justice Amy Coney Bryant, in the final weeks before the election.

It includes John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman, but not Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrats’ other dead post-war president and whose Civil Rights Act was approved of by Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, who make the list, and by Robert F. Kennedy, who does not.

Ronald Reagan makes the list, but not Gerald Ford or George H.W. Bush, and while Ginsburg is paired with Antonin Scalia, her ideological opposite and one of her closest friends, the list appears slightly more slanted to the right than the left.

The Biden transition did not respond to a request for comment on whether the new administration would keep or scrap plans for Trump’s hero garden. 

Trump’s list includes several significant Americans who owned slaves – in pushback at what Trump and his allies sometimes describe as ‘cancel culture.’ Trump vetoed a Defense bill in part over provisions to rename bases that bear names of confederate generals, but was overridden by Congress.

The list includes Caesar Rodney, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who also inherited and kept his family’s slaves at the plantation he owned. 

Trump in September blasted Biden for not opposing the effort by community leaders to take down a statue of Rodney located in his home town of Wilmington.

‘Joe Biden said nothing as to his home state’s history and the fact that it was dismantled dismembered, and a founding father’s statue was removed,’ said Trump in September. 

Other names on the list could have been plucked from history books and lists of figures in 20th century popular culture. 

They include conservative commentator William F. Buckley, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Grover Cleveland, political theorist of totalitarianism Hannah Arendt, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, and Charlton Heston.

Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) lost his statue in downtown Wilmington, but would get one in the garden envisioned by Trump's order

Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) lost his statue in downtown Wilmington, but would get one in the garden envisioned by Trump's order

Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) lost his statue in downtown Wilmington, but would get one in the garden envisioned by Trump’s order

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was to not have Trump fill her seat, but she occupy a place in his garden

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was to not have Trump fill her seat, but she occupy a place in his garden

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was to not have Trump fill her seat, but she occupy a place in his garden

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue around the country over police brutality, racial injustice and the deaths of African Americans while in police custody

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue around the country over police brutality, racial injustice and the deaths of African Americans while in police custody

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue around the country over police brutality, racial injustice and the deaths of African Americans while in police custody

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification

Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification

WHEN YOU WISH ... The garden idea would need approval from the Biden Administration and its Interior Department to honor figures like Walt Disney

WHEN YOU WISH ... The garden idea would need approval from the Biden Administration and its Interior Department to honor figures like Walt Disney

WHEN YOU WISH … The garden idea would need approval from the Biden Administration and its Interior Department to honor figures like Walt Disney

Basketball star Kobe Bryand died tragically in May

Basketball star Kobe Bryand died tragically in May

Basketball star Kobe Bryand died tragically in May

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died after a battle with cancer

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died after a battle with cancer

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek died after a battle with cancer

Sitting Bull is one of dozens of historical figures included on the list

Sitting Bull is one of dozens of historical figures included on the list

Sitting Bull is one of dozens of historical figures included on the list

Some names hint at the story of the coronavirus pandemic that rocked Trump’s presidency and the nation. Jonas Salk, considered the father of the modern vaccine; Johns Hopkins, who was revealed to have owned slaves and whose namesake university has cataloged the world’s 2 million deaths from the virus; and Walter Reed, an Army physician who studied disease transmission whose name adorns the military hospital where Trump got treated for the disease. 

The language of the White House order states that ‘The National Garden should be composed of statues, including statues …’ meaning those on the list would get in. 

‘In short, each individual has been chosen for embodying the American spirit of daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love.

‘Astounding the world by the sheer power of their example, each one of them has contributed indispensably to America’s noble history, the best chapters of which are still to come,’ it says.

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