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Fireworks light the sky at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D., after President Donald Trump spoke.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Fireworks light the sky at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D., after President Donald Trump spoke.

President delivers fiery speech at Mount Rushmore

Gary Matthews, The Associated Press and News Staff. - July 3, 2020

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. - "I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world - this monument will never be desecrated."

That was President Donald Trump as he delivered a fiery speech at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Friday night.

The President touched down at Ellsworth Air Force Base early Friday evening aboard Air Force One. Greeting him as he stepped off the plane were Governor Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune.

His stop at Ellsworth was short lived, as the President and First Lady quickly boarded Marine One for the trip up to the memorial.

Before his speech, native South Dakotan Mary Hart delivered the opening address, before welcoming in Governor Kristi Noem, who introduced the president after a speech by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

During her speech the governor stated she was working on planning the Mount Rushmore event before she was sworn in as governor. The governor says South Dakotans appreciate the people that came out to the state for Friday’s event.

Noem says people in this country shouldn’t forget America’s Founding Fathers. She said people are “paralyzed by the present and defeated about the future.” She added that we shouldn’t destroy history, we should learn from it.

After the governor's speech, President Donald Trump stepped to the podium and spoke for almost an hour.

During his speech, he charged that protesters have waged “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history” amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality.

The president dug further into American divisions on Friday, offering a discordant tone to an electorate battered by a pandemic and wounded by racial injustice following the high-profile killings of Black people.

He zeroed in on the desecration by some protesters of monuments and statues across the country that honor those who have benefited from slavery, including some past presidents.

Trump said, “This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore."

Extolling the monument to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, the president said "their legacy will never ever be destroyed. Their achievements will never be forgotten. And Mt. Rushmore will stand forever as an enternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom."

After his speech, the President and his wife Melania were treated to the first fireworks display at the memorial in over a decade.

The display went off without a hitch and the President seemed pleased with the hospitality he received at the "Shrine to Democracy."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing was not enforced during the event, although a few people in the crowd could be seen wearing masks.

In the V.I.P. section where the President sat, South Dakota's congressional delegation gathered. Dusty Johnson was seen wearing a mask. Senator's John Thune and Mike Rounds were not. Senator Rounds had told media representative this week that he planned on wearing a mask during the event.


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