A few years ago on the way to ski jumping camp I stopped in Keystone, South Dakota so that I could see Mount Rushmore (the national memorial, not the rock band). And being a rock hound, I thought the idea of snapping a photo of some stacked rocks in front of the landmark would be a victorious end to a day spent stacking rocks at all the other scenic lookouts I had stopped at earlier.
Visiting Mount Rushmore has been on my bucket list for years, which is why the opportunity to strike it off the list on this trip was a bonus. Unfortunately, my travel itinerary was blown from all my previous stops and I didn’t arrive in Keystone until midnight and the park had closed. With no hotel arranged, I decided to hunker down and catch some zzzz’s in the back of my car parked at the Keystone Emporium.
Around 4am, I woke from the pain in my limbs from the contorted pretzel I was in. With just a hint of sunrise on the horizon I headed up the road to the park entrance. Finding the guard gate open (albeit the one on the exit side) I drove in. I didn’t get far before I saw blinking lights…which is where this story will end. However, after my “interview” with Keystone public officials, the idea that the four presidents depicted were seen in such a heroic light, symbols of our democracy struck me. I remember trying to think of what American today would rise to the same level, or if it is even possible.
Clearly the world was much different in 1927 than it is today. Would the same four presidents, or other historical figures that symbolize our nation and values be respected as much today to the degree that people would spend 14 years carving their likeness into a mountain? And if not, is there anyone today that deserves a spot on the mountain?
In a recent online poll, Americans picked a few who should be considered—John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King. Who would you add?