WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order expanding the list of names to be featured in the proposed "National Garden of American Heroes."
Trump wants more figures to be honored in the garden, including the late singer Whitney Houston, game show host Alex Trebek and Grover Cleveland, the only U.S. president to serve nonconsecutive terms, to a list that already included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass and dozens more.
"In short, each individual has been chosen for embodying the American spirit of daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love," the executive order reads. "Astounding the world by the sheer power of their example, each one of them has contributed indispensably to America’s noble history, the best chapters of which are still to come."
A short sampling of the list of names includes: Muhammad Ali, Susan B. Anthony, Neil Armstrong, Alexander Graham Bell, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Theodor Geisel known as "Dr. Seuss," Walt Disney, Amelia Earhart, Aretha Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, Milton Friedman, Ulysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Francis Scott Key, Jimmy Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gilbert Stuart, Anne Sullivan, William Howard Taft, William Howard Taft, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Throughout the summer of 2020, statues and monuments across the country were torn down or defaced amid racially charged protests. Trump deployed federal forces to protect those monuments, embracing their defense as a law-and-order issue as he seeks reelection.
"Across this Nation, belief in the greatness and goodness of America has come under attack in recent months and years by a dangerous anti-American extremism that seeks to dismantle our country’s history, institutions, and very identity," the order issued continued. "The National Garden is America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life."
Trump first introduced the proposed garden plan during a Fourth of July event at Mount Rushmore in 2020. At that time, he established the Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes to gather ideas and requests for possible sites around the country and for heroes to honor.
His order on Monday said the task force has "completed the first phase of its work and is prepared to move forward."
The location of the garden has not been decided, but the order said that it will be a "place where citizens, young and old, can renew their vision of greatness."
Funding and maintenance for the garden will come from the Department of the Interior, according to the order.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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