Trump Issues Executive Order to Preserve Monuments of American Heroes
On July 3, President Trump issued an executive order to preserve and rebuild monuments dedicated to American heroes. Countless monuments and memorials have been vandalized or outright removed in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd. This decision follows the preceding order of June 26 in which President Trump ordered the protection of monuments and the prosecution of those who destroy government property.
In the latter, President Trump expressed his disdain for the recent acts of vandalism:
In the last week, vandals toppled a statue of President Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco. To them, it made no difference that President Grant led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War, enforced Reconstruction, fought the Ku Klux Klan, and advocated for the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed freed slaves the right to vote…And earlier this month, in Boston, a memorial commemorating an African-American regiment that fought in the Civil War was defaced with graffiti. In Madison, Wisconsin, rioters knocked over the statue of an abolitionist immigrant who fought for the Union during the Civil War.
In his latest order, the president has requested that a National Garden of American Heroes be established and open for public access prior to the 250th anniversary of the nation in 2026. He states the garden shall be composed of “historically significant Americans” that have “contributed positively to America throughout history”. President Trump goes on to define the terminology in greater detail:
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.
He further states 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 is well known that those who do not study history are bound to repeat it. In a recent speech, Lt. Col. Allen West, when asked about his views on the recent destruction of monuments, responded:
History is not there for you to like or dislike, it is there for you to learn from.
The history of every nation is with sin. When a society is incapable of studying its past, it becomes incapable of gauging the present. How can we as a society determine how close we are to a utopian civilization if we no longer have a relative starting point from which to base our progress? It is for this reason President Trump issued the order to protect monuments that represent “our collective national memory”. The use of “our” indicates we are of one people, united together in the same nation whom thereby share a “common inheritance” as he mentions.
President Trump illustrates this by addressing the current situation as an inter-generational problem; not only afflicting the present:
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.
Adam LeDuc is the Executive Editor for The National Times.