Mount Rushmore: Preserving Freedom in America
By: Governor Kristi Noem
February 24, 2023
The celebration of Presidents’ Day always brings attention to South Dakota. When people think of our state, they think of Mount Rushmore – and rightly so. In a lot of ways, that mountain is a symbol of American Freedom. It presents the faces of four leaders that fought for and expanded our nation’s founding ideal of the inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
President Washington fought a war to secure these American ideals. President Jefferson famously wrote them down. President Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, sent our Navy around the world to show how strong that Freedom has made us. And President Lincoln fought to deliver Freedom for every single American.
The first carving of Mount Rushmore happened in 1927, when President Coolidge handed Gutzon Borglum a set of drill bits. President Coolidge famously said, “this memorial will be another national shrine to which future generations will repair to declare their continuing allegiance to independence, to self-government, to freedom and to economic justice.” He also spoke of the strength of the American spirit in the people of South Dakota – something that I still see every single day.
It would be 14 years before Mount Rushmore was completed, but it was well worth the wait. That carving in the Black Hills serves as a reminder not only of what our nation has been through and what we have endured, but as a beacon of hope for our future. It represents the foundational truths upon which America was founded – the same principles that I strive to live by every day.
Unfortunately, today, traditional American ideals are being put on the back burner. National leaders prioritize the defense of other countries above the security of our own borders. Politicians use fear to motivate Americans to shelter in place rather than trusting them to make the best choices for themselves and their families. And the current administration put American security at risk when they let a spy balloon sent by Communist China travel across the entire country before taking any action.
Not in South Dakota.
In South Dakota we value our small-town morals. We protect our people and help build strong families, and then we trust those families to exercise their personal responsibility and make the best choices for themselves. In our state, it’s simple – less government, more Freedom.
President Teddy Roosevelt said that “it is a mere truism that every nation, whether in America or anywhere else, which desires to maintain its freedom, its independence, must ultimately realize that the right of such independence cannot be separated from the responsibility of making good use of it.” In South Dakota, we maintain our Freedom and our independence by making good use of it. And I can promise that during my time as Governor, I will never infringe upon the inalienable rights of every single South Dakotan.
It is important that we remember our great leaders, that we honor their legacy by preserving the ideals that are at the very heart of this great American experiment in democracy. Presidents’ Day reminds us of the great U.S. presidents, but what’s even more important is the nation that they built. We must work to protect that nation every single day – to keep the American Dream alive. And that’s exactly what we’re doing right here in South Dakota.