Recent Op-Eds

There are a number of presidents who have come to Mount Rushmore through the years, starting in 1927 with Calvin Coolidge when he authorized the first funding for the carving of the memorial. I’ve been there with two former presidents, and I imagine that every president who has served since the monument’s completion has looked up there and eyeballed whether or not there might be room for one more face. 

Having grown up in western South Dakota, I know firsthand what the monument means to our economy. Everyone in my family, and everyone in most families in my hometown, worked in businesses that served travelers who were heading to or coming from Mount Rushmore. 

I had two brothers who worked in filling stations. My sister waited tables. My younger brother worked at my hometown’s local attraction, the Pioneer Auto Museum. I cooked at a restaurant, the Star Family Restaurant. My parents, who worked in the school system during the school year, managed a motel during the travel season, where all of us kids pitched in whenever we could.

We didn’t have time or money for a vacation, except for one thing – our annual Labor Day weekend visit to the Black Hills, which always included a trip to Mount Rushmore. I have to say, it never got old, and I’m still in awe when I see it today.   

Mount Rushmore is one of the most unique sculptures on the entire planet, and it never disappoints. From the father of our country – George Washington – to the author of the Declaration of Independence – Thomas Jefferson – to the man who preserved the Union through the tumult of the Civil War – Abe Lincoln – to the Rough Rider, the “man in the arena,” who helped tame the west – Teddy Roosevelt – Mount Rushmore captures the greatness and the uniqueness of this American experiment. This monument continues to remind us of our past and inspire our future.

Tens of millions of Americans have passed by this shrine of democracy over the past 80-plus years, and may tens of millions more come this way for decades and centuries to come as we continue to celebrate freedom’s eternal spirit.