Democrats missing in Trump’s Garden of Heroes
If You Ask Me
Preoccupied as we are with a worldwide plague and an economic collapse, we the people have so far managed to contain our enthusiasm for President Trump’s planned statuary park for American heroes.
Maybe some of us, busy with Zoom cookouts over the Fourth of July weekend, missed the Trump announcement at Mount Rushmore. Then again, maybe others were not happy that the President picked all 31 heroes to be statued in the park by himself and didn’t give lesser historians a shot.
Some might even conclude he picked a park of his own heroes, probably because Billy Graham and Antonin Scalia aren’t the first names that come to mind when looking for the 31 greatest Americans.
But, I ask you, if Donald Trump doesn’t know a hero when he sees one, who does? Just ask him.
It is, admittedly, a rather heroic list the president has put forth, a mix of explorers, athletes, aviators, politicians, soldiers, astronauts and other exemplars. Four heroes are Black and 27 are white. But it’s also largely a list compiled from the American history we learned in elementary school.
Trump’s presidents are mostly from the beginning — Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison — plus two more: Lincoln from the 19th century and Reagan in the 20th. Scalia’s the only Supreme Court justice, Graham’s the only clergyman and Betsy Ross is the only sewer of the flag.
There’s Daniel Boone and Davy, Davy Crockett, the Wright Brothers and Black icons like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr. Dolley Madison’s the only first lady, presumably because she was saved George Washington’s portrait when the British burned the White House and Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t. Mark Twain didn’t make the cut, nor Walt Whitman; the only writer is Harriet Beecher Stowe. We’re lucky he didn’t pick Margaret Mitchell.
There are two Medal of Honor winners, Joshua Chamberlain from the Civil War and Audie Murphy from World War II, and two generals, who might cause arguments.
George Patton was the colorful World War II general who rushed across the Rhine so fast, he had to stop and wait for his supplies. But his character was on unpleasant display when he slapped two soldiers who were being treated for what was then called battle fatigue and screamed that they were cowards. General Eisenhower made him apologize to his entire army.
A hero of two wars, Douglas MacArthur let his ego get the better of him in the Korean War when President Truman had to fire him for insubordination. Truman, by the way, would be a prime candidate for any garden of American heroes but he’d probably be uncomfortable with MacArthur, whom he fired “because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was,” Truman later explained, “but that’s not against the law for generals.”
Truman isn’t the only Democrat missing from Trump’s garden; all of them are. There are Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, two Republicans and a Whig, but no Democrats. This is obviously an oversight, which will be corrected when the next garden crop is sewn.
We are told the next crop will also consider more “advocates for the poor and disadvantaged” and “authors, intellectuals, scientists and teachers,” but no Native Americans. Trump’s executive order for the park calls for only statues of American citizens or noncitizens who “lived prior to the American Revolution but who made substantive historical contributions to the discovery, development or independence of the future United States.” In other words, no American Indians need apply.
Meanwhile, our history-loving president is being far more tolerant of another group, who, like Native Americans, was not exactly composed of defenders of freedom for the American Union: the 10 Confederate generals who have U.S. Army posts named for them.
In addition to having been traitors, taking up arms against their country, these 10 have one other quality in common that should worry Trump, if betrayal isn’t enough: They’re all losers. But for now, he’s fighting valiantly for these traitors and losers because the people in their Southern towns, a.k.a. his base, admire them.
Finally, the president wants his statues to be classical in design, none of this modernist or abstract stuff. And he wants the same rule to apply to federal buildings. Not to make comparisons, but I can’t think of another national government that so vociferously attacked “decadent” art, except of course, the Third Reich.
Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at email@example.com.