My wife and I recently had the opportunity to tour a few Western states and it gave birth to a flood of stirring thoughts — it was perceptive insight that one can only reflect upon by standing in the presence of such a great witness.
During our trip we had the opportunity to see Mount Rushmore. That day we got there when it opened and drove right in, but when we left an hour or so later the line of cars waiting to see the monument was a couple miles long. There were thousands of people there from foreign lands speaking different languages, German, Spanish and Chinese.
Mount Rushmore, a pillar of granite arising out of the Black Hills in South Dakota, gave inspiration to a man named Borglum, a sculptor and the son of Danish descent. One can’t experience the mystique or the magnitude of that work of art unless you stand before it.
It was a grand project that took 400 men fourteen years to accomplish, from 1927 to 1941. Some of the men thought they were working on a grandiose motif, to others it was just a job. It was hard work, long days, and low pay, but no one perished during the construction of the project.
Someone once said America was the greatest experiment ever undertaken — I couldn’t help but reflect upon that as I gazed upon the 60 foot tall faces of Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
I came to the conclusion government isn’t just some abstract thought, an entity that has no face or just some proverbial blur of bureaucratic notions. The form of government US citizens live under is dictated by a president they elect. That individual can be a moral one, or immoral.
They can be a person of substance, or a charlatan. They can also be an individual who shuns the well-being of the people they serve. The pageantry of the position and the lofty thought of power can be intoxicating and all-to-self-pleasing to some.
I thought of past presidents and the current administration America has. I thought of how great America is, but how it’s also been marginalized and seems to be in constant turmoil.
As citizens, far too many of us, have submitted to the tyrannical dictates of government control waged on us — in gazing at our forefathers at Rushmore, I felt that those who live in silent protest have enabled much of it.
“Any man who tries to excite class hatred, sectional hate, hate of creeds, any kind of hatred in our community, though he may affect to do it in the interest of the class he is addressing, is in the long run with absolute certainty that class’s own worst enemy.” (Teddy Roosevelt)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt made these remarks at Mount Rushmore on August 30, 1936.
“On many occasions, when a new project is presented to you on paper and then, later on, you see the accomplishment, you are disappointed, but it is just the opposite of that in what we are looking at now. I have seen photographs, I had seen the drawings and I had talked with those who are responsible for this great work, and yet I had had no conception until about ten minutes ago, not only of its magnitude, but of its permanent beauty and of its permanent importance.
Mr. Borglum has well said that this can be a moment and an inspiration for this continuance of the Democratic-Republican form of government, not only in our own beloved country, but, we hope, throughout the world.
When we get through, there will be something for the American people that will last through not just generations but for thousands and thousands of years, and I think that we can perhaps meditate a little on those Americans ten thousand years from now, when the weathering on the faces of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln shall have proceeded to perhaps a depth of a tenth of an inch, meditate and wonder what our descendents, and I think they will still be here, will think about us.
Let us hope that at least they will give us the benefit of the doubt, that they will believe we have honestly striven every day and generation to preserve for our descendents a decent land to live in and a decent form of government to operate under.”
Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, has been published bi-monthly since 2009. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Indiana, a non-profit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org or follow him on Twitter @GregAllencolumn.