There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the presidential monument that adorns Mount Rushmore. For decades now, the South Dakota landmark has served as a tribute to four of our greatest presidents. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the quartet, they are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.
The recent controversy stems from the fact that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in Virginia was one of the largest slave-labor institutions in the country and Jefferson has been put on blast for fathering children with Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves.
We can look through the lens of history and say those things were bad. They certainly were. But it’s ridiculous to think those facts (which were products of their time in history) take away from the accomplishments of those men. The United States simply would not exist if not for Washington and Jefferson.
But that’s actually not what this column is about. This is about the “Mount Rushmore” concept. Recently, an idea has been floating around in social media about getting people to name their “Mount Rushmore of (blank)”… you know, like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Magic Johnson would be on the Mount Rushmore of Basketball. Or Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van
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Damme would be on the Mount Rushmore of ‘80s Action Heroes. It’s a fun idea and it leads to some fun debates (like how some of you are probably thinking about how ignorant I am for leaving Wilt Chamberlain or Larry Bird off my hoops monument.
That’s what’s so fun and great about it. With only four spots, you really have to think about who is on your list. I don’t really know a whole lot about basketball, but I will fight you (verbally anyway) over the Mount Rushmore of Baseball or Professional Wrestling or Super-Heroes all day long.
For the record, mine in those categories are Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Pete Rose (baseball); Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant and Jerry Lawler (wrestling); and Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and Spider-Man (super heroes). I’m sure yours would be different.
The best thing about it is there’s no “right” answer. I mean even the four men on the actual Mount Rushmore are arguably not the four that should be up there. The project was built in the 1920s, so there are plenty of presidents since then who would warrant inclusion if the monument were to be built today. But even in the early 1900s, you could have made an argument for James Monroe, Andrew Jackson or Ulysses S.
Grant. What about a Mount Rushmore of Modern Presidents? You get four from the 1900s to today.
Who’s on your list?
Probably FDR would get nearly universal support, but who else? Maybe Dwight Eisenhower? JFK would have a lot of backers, as I’m sure, would Ronald Reagan. That’s four. Who am I leaving out?
Another fun debate is the concept of adding a fifth face to Mount Rushmore.
Who, if you only get one spot to fill, gets that lofty honor?