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Trump Says He Will Create a Statuary Park Honoring ‘American Heroes’

Historians in the News
tags: memorials, monuments, public history, Donald Trump



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Mr. Trump’s order, which does not put a price tag on the project, says only that it should be located near a population center “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 also notes that all statues in the garden “be lifelike or realistic representations of the persons they depict, not abstract or modernist representations,” echoing prior efforts within the Trump administration to reject modernist designs for federal projects.

“Presidents certainly have a role in shaping national conversations about the meaning of our history. But this comes off as a desperate act of political grandstanding to his base," said Kevin K. Gaines, a professor of social justice and civil rights at the University of Virginia. “Washington D.C. is already full of national monuments to some of the revered figures on Trump’s roll call of heroes.”

Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of political history at Princeton University, agreed that Mr. Trump’s order appeared highly political.

“I can’t imagine this would not be used as a way not to honor American history but to put forth a very particular version of American history,” he said.

The order says the task force will consist of several federal officials, including the administrator of the General Services Administration and the chairpersons of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It directs the task force to submit a report within 60 days with proposed locations and other options for creating the site.

The order indicates that the future garden would feature more Americans than the ones Mr. Trump specifically named, offering mostly conventional categories for inclusion such as military heroes, entrepreneurs, astronauts, recipients of the Medal of Honor or Presidential Medal of Freedom, religious and labor leaders, “advocates for the poor and disadvantaged,” and “authors, intellectuals, artists, and teachers.”

The order also identifies as “historically significant” Americans “opponents of national socialism or international socialism” as well as “police officers and firefighters killed or injured in the line of duty.”

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Read entire article at The New York Times

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