MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. — At the foot of Mount Rushmore and on the eve of Independence Day, President Donald Trump mounted a direct appeal to the political base, including many disaffected voters, that carried him to the White House in 2016.
“This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore,” Trump said. He lamented “cancel culture” and charged that some on the political left hope to “defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.” He said Americans should speak proudly of their heritage and shouldn’t have to apologize for its history.
“We will not be terrorized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people,” Trump added. “It will not happen.”
During the speech, the president announced he was signing an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the “greatest Americans to ever live.”
The event, while not a campaign rally, had the feel of one as the friendly crowd greeted Trump with chants of “Four more years!” and cheered enthusiastically as he and first lady Melania Trump took the stage.
“They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive,” Trump said. “But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.”
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem echoed Trump’s attacks against his opponents who “are trying to wipe away the lessons of history.”
“Make no mistake: This is being done deliberately to discredit America’s founding principles by discrediting the individuals who formed them,” she said.
The small town of Keystone, which lies a couple of miles from the monument, was buzzing with people Friday hoping to catch a glimpse of the fireworks and the president. Many wore pro-Trump T-shirts and hats.
“This is going to rank up in the top Fourth of Julys that I talk about,” said Mike Stewhr, who brought his family from Nebraska.
About 15 protesters were arrested after blocking a road and missing a police-imposed deadline to leave.
Noem pushed to get the fireworks resumed soon after she was elected, and enlisted Trump’s help.
Trump plans a July Fourth celebration on the National Mall in Washington events from the White House South Lawn and from the Ellipse.