‘Giants of Our Past’: Which Historical US ‘Heroes’ Will Make It to Trump’s Newly Announced Monument?

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The plan to build a monument was devised as a response to a recent trend amid the nationwide BLM protests to topple statues of historically significant American figures who are somehow linked to either slavery or racial issues in the US, such as monuments to generals who fought for the Confederacy.

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at building a new monument honouring “the greatest Americans to ever live” by the 250th anniversary of independence in 2026. A Special Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes will be managing the construction of the new monument, which was dubbed the National Garden of American Heroes by POTUS.

“Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story. So today […] I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past. I am signing an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes”, Trump said during his Friday speech at Mount Rushmore.

The new monument will essentially be an outdoor park featuring statues of “historically significant Americans” who “positively” impacted the US in some way – be it achievements in a high political position, setting records as an athlete, or fighting for human rights as an activist. The exact location and other details of the park have not yet been determined, with the new task force set to present options to Trump in a matter of two months.

The executive order, however, outlined 31 historical American figures that should be represented in the park, although it’s possible that the final list will be longer.

George Washington monument in Manhattan vandalized with red paint

The list outlined in the executive order features most of the founding fathers, as well as prominent American presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Eight significant American women, who either engaged in human rights activism, such as the suffrage movement, or in other notable activities, also made it onto the list – among them are Amelia Earhart, the first American female aviator; Christa McAuliffe, a teacher and astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster; Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross; and Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist and political activist.

Tubman, however, was not the only historically significant African-American figure to make it onto the list, as she is accompanied by Frederick Douglass, a 19th century statesman;  Jackie Robinson, the first black person to play in Major League Baseball (MLB); and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.


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AP Photo / Charles Tasnadi

Dr. Martin Luther King during news conference following a Howard University address during the university’s charter day observance in Washington on March 2, 1965

The list of statues for the Garden of American Heroes will also feature key figures of the Civil War and the Second World War, including Joshua Chamberlain and General George S. Patton, inventors such as the Wright brothers, who built the first successful motor-operated airplane, and even famous American explorers and frontiersman, like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

Here is the full list of names mentioned in the executive order:

  • Founding Father and second US president, John Adams
  • Women’s rights activist and prominent member of the suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony
  • American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton
  • American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman, Daniel Boone
  • Decorated Union officer and a hero of the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg, Joshua Chamberlain
  • Prominent 19th century statesman, Henry Clay
  • American frontiersman and politician, Davy Crockett
  • African-American statesman and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass
  • First American female aviator, Amelia Earhart
  • Founding Father of the United States, inventor, and statesman, Benjamin Franklin
  • Prominent American evangelist, Billy Graham
  • Founding Father, statesman, and politician, Alexander Hamilton
  • Founding Father and third US president, Thomas Jefferson
  • Civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 16th president of the US, Abraham Lincoln
  • Second World War hero, General Douglas MacArthur
  • First Lady of the United States, Dolley Madison
  • Founding Father and fourth president of the United States, James Madison
  • American teacher and astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster, Christa McAuliffe
  • Second World War hero, actor, and songwriter, Audie Murphy
  • Second World War hero, General George S. Patton
  • 40th president of the US, Ronald Reagan
  • Professional baseball player and first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), Jackie Robinson
  • Believed creator of the first American flag, Betsy Ross
  • Renowned Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia
  • American abolitionist and author, Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • African-American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman
  • African-American educator, author, and adviser to several US presidents, Booker T. Washington
  • Founding Father and first president of the United States, George Washington
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright, two inventors who designed and built the first operational motor-based airplane


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AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Trump’s decision to establish the new memorial was not random, but came in response to the ongoing toppling of statues of famous Americans across the country by BLM and George Floyd protesters, who claim that these figures promote racism and perpetuate the memory of or glorify slavery, which was abolished following the American Civil War in 1865. Trump accused the protesters of trying to “defame [American] heroes” and “erase [American] values”, calling for the “left-wing cultural revolution” to be stopped. His statements come in the wake of the signing of another executive order that stipulates giving up to 10-year prison sentences to people found guilty of damaging “symbols of national heritage”.

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