Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mount Rushmore

I got to visit Mt. Rushmore last month, in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

I had always thought it a little kooky that someone had decided to carve some of our most revered presidents into the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. On this trip, I found out who carved it (Gutzon Borglum), why he did it, and that it's not really kooky at all. And, by the way, the mountain was called Mt. Rushmore before anyone ever thought of turning it into a sculpture.

It was the idea of Doane Robinson, the founder of the South Dakota state historical society. Through support from Peter Norbeck, a U.S senator, it was eventually determined that it would be made a monument to our country, much like the Washington Monument or Lincoln Monument, except carved from a mountain. Gutzon Borglum and his crew blasted their way through the granite to carve the 4 presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

There was also to be a Hall of Records, because Borglum felt that a monument to our country should hold the history of our country. Alas, it was never completed (it was to be a stone vault behind the peak). But, there are now many interpretive exhibits at the memorial, recording the history of the monument, the history of our country, and the history of the presidents that grace the mountain.

When I arrived, I thought it was just a carved mountain. When I left, I saw it as a monument to the greatness that is my country: The United States of America. I really liked this quote about Mt. Rushmore from the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum:

"I want, somewhere in America on or near the Rockies, the backbone of the Continent, so far removed from succeeding, selfish, coveting civilizations, a few feet of stone that bears witness, carries, the likenesses, the dates, a word or two of the great things we accomplished as a Nation, placed so high it won't pay to pull down for lesser purposes.

Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away."

It was really a great place to visit.


Alison said...

I haven't been there since I was a kid, and would love to take my own kids soon. I like the quotes that you used in your blog.

Corinne said...

We went there on our honeymoon - LOVED IT. I want to go back with my kids :)