For weeks now, we have been witnessing a troubling turning point in our nation’s history. We moved from calls for reform to violent riots and looting. Now, we’re witnessing a radical movement committed to undoing our nation’s history. Make no mistake, this movement has nothing to do with equality or justice.
In real time, we are watching an organized, coordinated campaign to remove and eliminate all references to our nation’s founding and many other points in our history. Rather than looking to the past to help improve our future, the lessons of history – lessons that we should be teaching our children and our grandchildren – are instead being wiped away. This approach focuses exclusively on a person’s flaws and fails to capitalize on the opportunity to learn from the virtues that person represents. This is being done deliberately to discredit America’s founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them, so that America can be remade in a very different political image.
America is the nation that it is because of the ideals that it was built on: “All men are created equal,” they have “certain unalienable rights,” and that government’s purpose is “to secure these rights.” Thomas Jefferson, an unquestionably flawed man, gave us this extraordinary statement of purpose. Today, instead of focusing our attention on Jefferson’s flaws, as a nation, we should be focusing on what this remarkable statement means.
In recent days, we have seen threats to memorials that honor some of America’s greatest leaders. Some vandals have gone so far as to attack statues of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, the very leaders who brought the Union through the Civil War and ushered in the end of slavery in our country. These are the same men who turned Jefferson’s ideal into reality.
Now we’re seeing threats to Mount Rushmore. To those who would threaten America’s Shrine of Democracy, I have one simple message for you: Not on my watch.
Mount Rushmore is a National Monument, and I am partnering with the federal government and offering the resources of South Dakota to make sure that proper security measures are in place. We will do everything in our power to make sure that Mount Rushmore remains as majestic and inspiring as it is today.
President Trump is visiting Mount Rushmore in just a few days, and it is such an honor to have the President of the United States visit South Dakota, especially to celebrate America’s birthday. Security measures will be in full force for the event, but we know that threats to Mount Rushmore may continue after the president leaves. We’ll stay diligent about protecting it.
I want to make one thing clear: the men honored on Mount Rushmore weren’t perfect; nobody is. They all had flaws. But they all had tremendous virtues as well, and they did incredible things for our country. Today, America is the greatest nation in the history of the world, and that is in no small part thanks to each president memorialized on Mount Rushmore.
We can learn from their successes, and we can also learn from their mistakes. And in doing so, we must continue to fight for the American ideal that each of them spent their lives striving for: “All men are created equal.”