One of Trump’s Final Executive Orders Reveals the 244 ‘American Heroes’ He Wants to Honor With a National Sculpture Garden

The proposed garden has no funding or location.

Black Lives Matter protestors defaced a Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia. Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images.

In one of his final acts in office, President Donald Trump has issued an executive order naming the notable figures to be honored in his controversial National Garden of American Heroes. The 244 names making the list—not all of whom are actually American—include Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, George Washington, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, and Kobe Bryant.

Trump proposed the sculpture park in response to growing calls to reevaluate public monuments that memorialize controversial figures such as Confederate leaders and slave owners, some of which were vandalized of statues in the US during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. One of the major targets of such efforts, Christopher Columbus, is among Trump’s honorees.

“Belief in the greatness and goodness of America has come under attack in recent months and years by a dangerous anti-American extremism that seeks to dismantle our country’s history, institutions, and very identity,” Trump wrote in the executive order. “The National Garden is America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life.”

The order compares the desecration of monuments to such events as the 9/11 attacks, the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.—both slated for inclusion in the garden—and the burning of the White House by the British during the War of 1812. Notably absent is any mention of this month’s storming of the capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists bent on reversing the results of the 2020 election.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images.

The garden recognizes figures with a wide range of accomplishments, including in sports, film, science, literature, exploration, medicine, religion, politics, and art. Art world honorees include photographer Ansel Adams, early American portraitist Charles Wilson Peale, ex-pat artist John Singer Sargent, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell. Seventy-three percent of the statues memorialize men.

“Each individual has been chosen for embodying the American spirit of daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love,” Trump wrote.

The outgoing president first called for the garden’s creation in a speech delivered at the foot of Mount Rushmore in July, with a target opening date of July 4, 2026.  A separate executive order reinforced laws protecting statues across the country.

Task Force Members Secretary David Bernhardt, Chairman Aimee Jorjani and Executive Director Chuck Laudner tour the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison to discuss the rebuilding of damaged statues. Photo by Tami Heilemann courtesy of the Department of the Interior.

Task Force Members Secretary David Bernhardt, Chairman Aimee Jorjani, and executive director Chuck Laudner tour the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison to discuss the rebuilding of damaged statues. Photo by Tami Heilemann, courtesy of the Department of the Interior.

As of August, state officials had proposed 59 sites for the garden, as well as suggesting 118 potential honorees and more than 170 existing statues that could be loaned or donated to the park, according to the Department of the Interior, which leads the Interagency Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes. But there is currently no funding for the project, nor has a location been chosen.

There has already been pushback as well. “No president of the United States or federal government has any business dictating us citizens who our historical heroes should be. This is not Stalin’s Russia,” historian Michael Beschloss told Axios. “Any American who loves democracy should make sure there is never some official, totalitarian-sounding ‘National Garden of American Heroes,’ with names forced upon us by the federal government.”

See the full list of proposed statues below.

Ansel Adams
John Adams
Samuel Adams
Muhammad Ali
Luis Walter Alvarez
Susan B. Anthony
Hannah Arendt
Louis Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Crispus Attucks
John James Audubon
Lauren Bacall
Clara Barton
Todd Beamer
Alexander Graham Bell
Roy Benavidez
Ingrid Bergman
Irving Berlin
Humphrey Bogart
Daniel Boone
Norman Borlaug
William Bradford
Herb Brooks
Kobe Bryant
William F. Buckley, Jr.
Sitting Bull
Frank Capra
Andrew Carnegie
Charles Carroll John Carroll
George Washington Carver
Johnny Cash
Joshua Chamberlain
Whittaker Chambers
Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman
Ray Charles
Julia Child
Gordon Chung-Hoon
William Clark, Henry Clay
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Roberto Clemente
Grover Cleveland
Red Cloud
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody
Nat King Cole
Samuel Colt
Christopher Columbus
Calvin Coolidge
James Fenimore Cooper
Davy Crockett
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
Miles Davis
Dorothy Day
Joseph H. De Castro
Emily Dickinson
Walt Disney
William “Wild Bill” Donovan
Jimmy Doolittle
Desmond Doss
Frederick Douglass
Herbert Henry Dow
Katharine Drexel
Peter Drucker
Amelia Earhart
Thomas Edison
Jonathan Edwards
Albert Einstein
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Duke Ellington
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Medgar Evers
David Farragut
The Marquis de La Fayette
Mary Fields
Henry Ford
George Fox
Aretha Franklin,
Benjamin Franklin
Milton Friedman
Robert Frost
Gabby Gabreski
Bernardo de Gálvez
Lou Gehrig
Theodor Seuss Geisel
Cass Gilbert
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
John Glenn
Barry Goldwater
Samuel Gompers
Alexander Goode
Carl Gorman
Billy Graham
Ulysses S. Grant
Nellie Gray
Nathanael Greene
Woody Guthrie
Nathan Hale
William Frederick “Bull” Halsey, Jr.
Alexander Hamilton
Ira Hayes
Hans Christian Heg
Ernest Hemingway
Patrick Henry
Charlton Heston
Alfred Hitchcock
Billie Holiday
Bob Hope
Johns Hopkins
Grace Hopper
Sam Houston
Whitney Houston
Julia Ward Howe
Edwin Hubble
Daniel Inouye
Andrew Jackson
Robert H. Jackson
Mary Jackson
John Jay
Thomas Jefferson
Steve Jobs
Katherine Johnson
Barbara Jordan
Chief Joseph
Elia Kazan
Helen Keller
John F. Kennedy
Francis Scott Key
Coretta Scott King
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Russell Kirk
Jeane Kirkpatrick
Henry Knox
Tadeusz Kościuszko
Harper Lee
Pierre Charles L’Enfant
Meriwether Lewis
Abraham Lincoln
Vince Lombardi
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Clare Boothe Luce
Douglas MacArthur
Dolley Madison
James Madison
George Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
William Mayo
Christa McAuliffe
William McKinley
Louise McManus
Herman Melville
Thomas Merton
George P. Mitchell
Maria Mitchell
William “Billy” Mitchell
Samuel Morse
Lucretia Mott
John Muir
Audie Murphy
Edward Murrow
John Neumann
Annie Oakley
Jesse Owens
Rosa Parks
George S. Patton, Jr.
Charles Willson Peale
William Penn
Oliver Hazard Perry
John J. Pershing
Edgar Allan Poe
Clark Poling
John Russell Pope
Elvis Presley
Jeannette Rankin
Ronald Reagan
Walter Reed
William Rehnquist
Paul Revere
Henry Hobson Richardson
Hyman Rickover
Sally Ride
Matthew Ridgway
Jackie Robinson
Norman Rockwell
Caesar Rodney
Eleanor Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Betsy Ross
Babe Ruth
Jonas Salk
John Singer Sargent
Antonin Scalia
Norman Schwarzkopf
Junípero Serra
Elizabeth Ann Seton
Robert Gould Shaw
Fulton Sheen
Alan Shepard
Frank Sinatra
Margaret Chase Smith
Bessie Smith
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Jimmy Stewart
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Gilbert Stuart
Anne Sullivan
William Howard Taft
Maria Tallchief
Maxwell Taylor
Kateri Tekakwitha
Shirley Temple
Nikola Tesla
Jefferson Thomas
Henry David Thoreau
Jim Thorpe
Augustus Tolton
Alex Trebek
Harry S. Truman
Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman
Dorothy Vaughan
C. T. Vivian
John von Neumann
Thomas Ustick Walter
Sam Walton
Booker T. Washington
George Washington
John Washington
John Wayne
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Phillis Wheatley
Walt Whitman
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Roger Williams
John Winthrop
Frank Lloyd Wright
Orville Wright
Wilbur Wright
Alvin C. York
Cy Young
Lorenzo de Zavala

UPDATE, 1/25/21: “Members of the Whittaker Chambers family expressly asked Maryland state senators not to submit the name of Whittaker Chambers for this garden,” David Chambers, the Chambers family historian told Artnet News in an email. “We would not be surprised if other family members of those nominated had also publicly objected.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics