South Dakota: America's Freedom Stronghold

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 South Dakota: America’s Freedom Stronghold


By: Governor Kristi Noem

June 9, 2023


You know the Founding Fathers, the men who laid the foundation for this great nation. You probably know Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton. But you may not have heard of Benjamin Rush.


Benjamin Rush was active in the Sons of Liberty. He was consulted by Thomas Paine to help write Common Sense. He represented Pennsylvania and signed the Declaration of Independence. And he used his medical skills to help soldiers during the Revolutionary War.


Benjamin Rush was also very passionate about education. He wanted to ensure that future generations would have the gift of knowledge. In 1786, he wrote a plan for establishing public schools in the state of Pennsylvania. In his essay, Rush describes the influence and advantages of learning. He wrote, “learning is favorable to liberty. Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights, and where learning is confined to a few people, liberty can be neither equal nor universal.”


This ideal still rings true today – it’s why I have found that one of the greatest things I can do as Governor is pour into our kids. It’s why we passed new social studies standards for the state. It’s why I have worked closely with the Board of Regents to continue improving South Dakota’s institutes of higher education. And it’s why our parents need to have a say in what their kids are learning in the classroom.


I want our kiddos to learn an honest and factual history, to understand the ideals of our founders, and to apply that knowledge to the nation today. That is how we preserve Freedom in South Dakota and in America.


Unfortunately, we now live in a time when common sense is no longer common, and patriotism seems to be harder to come by. Just recently, it was discovered that Target’s nonprofit foundation is giving money to an organization that is pushing to give away Mount Rushmore to an extremist group who has threatened to shut it down and destroy it.


Target and other large corporations have been moving further and further away from traditional American values for years. They don’t care that Mount Rushmore has always been a symbol of hope that this great American experiment in democracy will live on – that we will continue to be the greatest nation the world has ever seen.


The four leaders on Mount Rushmore did incredible things. They weren’t perfect, but each of them played a part in giving Americans our most precious gift: Freedom.


The United States of America is the greatest, freest nation in history. We all know that, and we are making sure our kids and our grandkids know that too. In South Dakota, we still believe in the beauty of the American Dream and the value of hard work. And as Governor of this great state, I can promise you one thing – Mount Rushmore will not be given away on my watch.


America’s symbol of Freedom will endure. And South Dakota will continue to be America’s Freedom stronghold.