on August 1, 2011
You read about these places in American history as a kid, but to see it up close is jaw dropping amazing. I’ve had this experience once before in Washington DC at the statue of Abe Lincoln and now again on this day in Keystone, South Dakota at the Mount Rushmore National Park. Have you ever gotten chill bumps on your arms or a knot in your throat when you hear the national anthem or when the military comes home and a child rushes their mom or dad? It is the overwhelming feeling of American Pride. Well I have, and this national park was one of those chill bump moments. I was touring South Dakota with my parents and uncle and we had just driven through the most beautiful land in Custer State Park when we approached the mountain. You get a sneak peak of the presidents when you round the mountain and the excitement builds until you can’t wait to see it in all its beauty. But when you finally are standing there on the overlook with all the flags of our states flying around you, it is not like anything you have seen or felt before. I will admit, I cried at the beauty that day and the thought of what those men represented in the rock stood for all those years ago and stand for still today. Mount Rushmore is a sculpture carved in the granite face of a mountain. It was started in 1927 by a son of Danish immigrants and completed between 1934 and 1939. The 60 foot sculptures are of four of the American presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln and represent the first 150 years of American history. In 1933 the US National Park Services took over the memorial and remains in control of it today. The park is open year around, except Christmas Day, but it is best to check with the website for exact times due to the winter weather in the mountains. Like most national parks, the entrance into the park is free, but parking is $11 per car. I think it is a bargain for 4 people. There is a 30 minute walking tour of the monument during the summer months and a Sculpture’s Studio that is a short walk from the overlook and is really a worthwhile trek. There you will find tools used in the making of the monument, photos of the progress, as well as a scale model of the presidents. I didn’t know that the first model created the monument with the presidents from the waist up but due to money constraints and softer rock that was never achieved. You will hear interesting stories of the workers as well as the artists and learn more tidbits than you ever thought possible.At sundown, there is a 45 minute program that you should not miss. As you sit in the outdoor amphitheater overlooking Mount Rushmore, you will first watch the film Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy. The program then focuses on the patriotism of our people and asks every man and women who has served in the US Military to stand while the National Anthem is sung and the monument is lit to show its glory. This is one of the rare times you will see men removing their hats in reverence and smiles of gratitude for those who served for our freedom. There were few dry eyes there that night. For the experience and for those who keep the hope alive, I am eternally grateful. I believe this is a place every American should visit to remember who we are and why we do what we do each and every day in war torn places – for our Freedom.
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