The chronicles of our history show that America is a land of heroes. As I announced during my address at Mount Rushmore, the gates of a beautiful new garden will soon open to the public where the legends of America’s past will be remembered.
The National Garden will be built to reflect the awesome splendor of our country’s timeless exceptionalism. It will be a place where citizens, young and old, can renew their vision of greatness and take up the challenge that I gave every American in my first address to Congress, to “[b]elieve in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe, once more, in America.”
Across this Nation, belief in the greatness and goodness of America has come under attack in recent months and years by a 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. The dead who gave their lives to end slavery and save the Union during the Civil War have been dishonored, with monuments to Abraham Lincoln, Hans Christian Heg, and the courageous 54th Regiment left damaged and disfigured. The brave warriors who saved freedom from Nazi fascism have been disgraced with a memorial to World War II veterans defaced with the hammer and sickle of Soviet communism.
The National Garden is America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life. On its grounds, the devastation and discord of the moment will be overcome with abiding love of country and lasting patriotism. This is the American way. When the forces of anti-Americanism have sought to burn, tear down, and destroy, patriots have built, rebuilt, and lifted up. That is our history. America responded to the razing of the White House by building it back in the same place with unbroken resolve, to the murders of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., with a national temple and the Stone of Hope, and to the terrorism of 9/11 with a new Freedom Tower. 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.
The National Garden will draw together and fix in the soil of a single place what Abraham Lincoln called “[t]he mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart.” In the peace and harmony of this vast outdoor park, visitors will come and learn the amazing stories of some of the greatest Americans who have ever lived. The National Garden will feature a roll call of heroes who deserve honor, recognition, and lasting tribute because of the battles they won, the ideas they championed, the diseases they cured, the lives they saved, the heights they achieved, and the hope they passed down to all of us — that united as one American people trusting in God, there is no challenge that cannot be overcome and no dream that is beyond our reach.
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.