The New Patriotism of Mount Rushmore
Many Americans simply accept the surface interpretation of Mount Rushmore without question. It's a national monument dedicated to serve as the "Shrine of Democracy", a place which demonstrates the ingenuity and productivity of the American Spirit, and honors four iconic presidents of our great nation's history. The image of Mount Rushmore is well known to Americans, even now appearing as a ghosted image inside the new U.S. Passports as one of many national landmarks and wonders depicted on the areas for entry and exit stamps. Mount Rushmore is often known as the very essence of patriotism, in the same category with the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Statue of Liberty. It is iconic. It is symbolic of a statement of the grandeur and greatness of the American spirit and the American Dream, a lasting impression embedded into the landscape of the very heart of our nation.
Yet how can such feelings of patriotism still be summoned forth when the veil of ignorance is lifted to reveal the darker, more questionable aspects of the history of this august monument? The subtle irony of this monument is that it was to be a timeless tribute to residual feelings of Manifest Destiny, a perpetual reminder and example that America exhibits a special moral quality or virtue which set us apart from the masses of the world. Yet as time has passed, we have come to understand that moral virtue must extend to everyone, not just those who share the color of our skin, the creed of our religion, the language of our ancestors, or our preference for gender partners. As the level of social tolerance and understanding grows from generation to generation, the virtuous agenda has continued to develop. We can no longer consider