Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mount Rushmore - A Magnificent Monument

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Concealed in a celestial wilderness of rock and pine, Mount Rushmore is a magnificent monument sculpted from smooth granite. Commissioned by the Federal Government to create the massive memorial, artist Gutzon Borglum began blasting in 1927.

Borglum chose to depict the featured presidents because of the unique ideals each seemed to possess. George Washington represents the struggle for independence while Thomas Jefferson the idea of government by the people.

Abraham Lincoln was included because he believed in equality and the permanent union of the states. Theodore Roosevelt appears due to his progressive thoughts on the role of the United States in contemporary world affairs.

After Gutzon Borglum’s death combined with a lack of further funding, the project was declared complete in 1941. The work looks unfinished but rough hewn edges give the piece a certain sketchiness that blends into the environment.

Upon entering the complex, a grand boulevard leads to an overlook where the sculpture can be contemplated. As an attraction luring tourists to South Dakota, the structure is certainly a success but some believe the triumph is bittersweet.

That stretch of land is sacred to the Lakota Sioux and in 1868 the Treaty of Fort Laramie granted them the Black Hills in perpetuity. Later, the United States seized the area from the Lakota Tribe after the Great Sioux War of 1876.

Native Americans believe the spiritual mountain they know as the Six Grandfathers has been desecrated. They believe there is an unclean shroud over the presidents’ faces which will remain dirty until the treaties concerning the Black Hills are fulfilled.

There is no doubt that Mount Rushmore exudes patriotism. Visiting the place makes you feel proud of what this nation has become but if you’re a student of American History, you may also feel some regret for how we got there.

A wilderness of rock and pine

A massive memorial

Washington represents independence, Lincoln equality

The sculpture blends into the landscape

The grand boulevard

The structure is a success

The Black Hills are sacred

The Lakota Sioux were granted this land

Mount Rushmore exudes patriotism

You may also feel some regret

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