“A monument’s dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated.” – Gutzon Borglum
Most people, whether or not they have personally visited the Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota, have seen pictures of it and have some understanding of what it represents. Through our August 17, 2017 visit to this monument we learned so much more about it that we want to share some of that with you through this post.
Gutzon Borglum was the sculptor chosen to lead the effort with carving beginning in 1927 and completing in 1941. Likenesses of four United States presidents are sculpted into Mount Rushmore; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Borglum chose each of these men for specific reasons relating to the founding and growth of our great nation. Washington, being the leader of the American Revolution and the first president, was chosen to have the most prominent place on the mountain representing the birth of the nation. Jefferson, our third president, was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and spearheaded the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 which doubled the size of the country. To Borglum, he represented the growth of the nation. Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, worked tirelessly to link trade between the East and West by negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal and was known as the “trust-buster” for his work to end monopolies and ensure the rights of the common man. Borglum saw him as representing our nations economic development. Lincoln, our 16th president, was chosen for his greatest accomplishment of holding our nation together through its most trying time, the Civil War. To Borglum, Lincoln represented the preservation of the United States.
This was a moving experience that we highly recommend to any who have yet to experience it in person. Hoping to paint a picture in your mind about the scale of these sculptures and connecting the story back to the opening quote of this post, here are a few brief stats: noses are about 20′ long; eyes are about 11′ wide; mouths are about 18′ wide; nearly 3 million people from around the world visit annually; about 400 laborers, mostly from the ranks of the unemployed, worked on this project; about 450,000 tons of rock was blasted from the mountain; cracks are patched as needed with silicone sealant.
We will close this post with a quote from each of the men memorialized in this monument. Each of us can benefit from reflecting on these pithy statements, especially in light of the extreme divisiveness prevalent throughout our country these days.
“The preservation of the sacred fire of Liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” George Washington
“We act not for ourselves but for the whole human race. The event of our experiment is to show whether man can be trusted with self – government.” Thomas Jefferson
“The first requisite of a good citizen in this Republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight – that he shall not be a mere passenger.” Theodore Roosevelt
“I leave you hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.” Abraham Lincoln