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Governor's Column: To Show Posterity What Manner Of Men They Were





 

            Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

605-773-3212

www.sd.gov

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, October 21, 2016

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212

 

EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit news.sd.gov/media.aspx and click on “Audio” under “Governor Dennis Daugaard.”

 

 

To Show Posterity What Manner Of Men They Were

 

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

 

I never tire of Mount Rushmore. My family tries to visit Mount Rushmore a few times each year, and I host an annual gathering for business prospects at the monument. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve visited, but I can say the splendor of South Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction hasn’t worn thin for me. It is breathtaking in all seasons. Under blue skies, on cloudy days, or at night – it always amazes.

 

Oct. 31 marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore. The 14 years of work on the monument began in 1927. Gutzon Borglum and his men encountered a number of obstacles throughout those years. Being unlike anything that had been done before, its completion was not inevitable.

 

During the years of the Great Depression, funding was an ever present concern. The project ran out of money on several occasions. Just as the economy began to recover, the nation’s highest priority shifted from economic recovery to national defense – another costly endeavor. Opposition to the project existed at the federal and local levels. At the outset, officials from the Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture opposed the creation of a memorial in the Black Hills.

 

Besides the financial and political hurdles, the work itself was extremely challenging and dangerous. Workers had to remove 800 million pounds of stone in precisely the right way. The job involved handling dynamite and hanging off the mountain on a cable. As one man new on the job described it: “Somehow you never had any faith in that cable, and you could look down and see just where you’d fall to . . .”

 

Perhaps the most devastating setback of all was the death of Gutzon Borglum, who passed away on March 6, 1941, before the project could be completed. With Borglum’s death, the naysayers’ voices seemed amplified. Commentators and editors doubted the future of the monument and their doubts were echoed by the public.

 

Borglum’s son, Lincoln, took the helm when his father passed away. At just 29 years of age and with only $50,000 of funding left, Lincoln Borglum was left with a difficult task. Work on Washington’s lapels, Lincoln’s head and some of Roosevelt’s features remained, and it wouldn’t be long until he would need to lay people off.

 

Seven months later, on Friday, Oct. 31, 1941, at 4 p.m., the work on the world’s largest sculpture was completed. The industry and determination of the Borglums and the risks taken by the workmen had finally paid off.

 

Seventy-five years have passed and this monument is still telling the American story. Each year millions of Americans visit the Shrine of Democracy and learn about the founding, expansion, preservation and unification of our country under the leadership of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Mount Rushmore serves, as Gutzon Borlum had said, “to show posterity what manner of men they were” – both the men enshrined on the mountain and those who carved it.

 

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