2020 has had major protests about treatment of American minorities, especially since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests have led to vandalism and removal of statues of people tied to the Confederacy and slavery, but it also spread to other American icons, even some of them who were anti-slavery. This defies logic, but some of the protesters don’t know much about history, and a few others no doubt want to destroy the history of the United States as we know it.
Meanwhile, President Trump before the Fourth of July signed an executive order to create a heroes garden to highlight inspirational people from American history. That is a wonderful idea, because if our country is to preserve its greatness, its citizens will need to understand it. Many people have lost appreciation for that fact in a shockingly short amount of time.
Trump’s order for the National Garden of American Heroes created a task force to plan it and propose a site and suggested some of the statues, including not only presidents and political leaders but also pioneers in various areas, ranging from Davey Crockett to Jackie Robinson. The president reached out to the public and governors to add suggestions, and Gov. Doug Ducey submitted a strong list of Arizonans:
n Sen. Carl Hayden, who served in Congress from statehood in 1912 until 1969 and was key in creating the Central Arizona Project.
n Sen. Barry Goldwater, born before Arizona was a state and a presidential candidate.
n Sen. John McCain, a military hero and also a presidential candidate.
n The Navajo Code Talkers, who used an unbreakable version of their own language to help win World War II.
n The Buffalo Soldiers, Black cavalry soldiers who served in the West, including at Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona.
n Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
n Raul Castro, an immigrant who served as governor and as a U.S. ambassador.
n Rose Mofford, the first woman governor of Arizona.
n Pat Tillman, who gave up a pro football contract to serve in the Army after Sept. 11 and was killed in Afghanistan.
n Lincoln Ragsdale, a Tuskegee Airman in World War II and prominent Black businessman and civil rights leader.
n Frank Luke, a World War I fighter pilot ace who died in combat and received the Medal of Honor.
n Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian who was immortalized in a photo of a flag raising on Iwo Jima.
n Stewart Udall, a congressman and secretary of the interior.
n Annie Dodge Wauneka, a leader of the Navajo Nation, especially in the areas of health and education.
This is an outstanding list. If the other states do as well with nominees, the garden certainly will be something to cherish now and in the future.