On his way out of office, Donald Trump is expected to issue a flurry of executive orders and pardons. Among the actions taken on Monday was an executive order following through on his pledge to build a “Garden of American Heroes.”
Trump first announced plans for the monument over the summer, but today’s executive order includes a full list of statues that shall be constructed. It’s a disorientingly long list of 250 names spanning entertainment, sports, literature, and politics, with no apparent rhyme or reason for why they were included other than that they’re dead.
Musicians include Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Elvis, and Whitney Houston, while Humphrey Bogart, Bob Hope, and Jimmy Stewart are among the Hollywood figures up for enshrinement.
There are also several head-scratching selections, such as Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who was Canadian, and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, who was British. Hannah Arendt, the German-born political theorist who warned against the rise of nativism and cult-like fanaticism that came to define the Trump era, is also present on the list, as is Woody Guthrie, who once wrote a protest song about Trump’s father, Fred Trump.
Kobe Bryant, Jackie Robinson, and Rosa Parks are set to receive statues alongside known racists like John Wayne and Walt Disney. Meanwhile, historical Native American figure Sitting Bull will reside next to the man who drove his tribe from their lands, President Ulysses S. Grant.
In his executive order, Trump said the National Garden is a response to the removal of monuments celebrating Confederate generals and Christopher Columbus over the summer amidst the Black Lives Matter protests. He likened the garden’s construction to the building of the Freedom Tower following the 9/11 terror attacks.
“In keeping with this tradition, America is responding to the tragic toppling of monuments to our founding generation and the giants of our past by commencing a new national project for their restoration, veneration, and celebration,” reads the executive order.
It’s unclear where The National Garden will reside, or how much it will cost to construct. It’s also entirely possible that President-elect Joe Biden will cancel the project once he takes office and instead put the money towards constructing a monument honoring the 400,000+ COVID-19 victims who died under Trump’s watch.
Pres. Trump releases executive order to build "National Garden of American Heroes."
"The heroes of 1776 have been desecrated, with statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin vandalized and toppled." pic.twitter.com/T17Jw6mS9r
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) January 18, 2021