The first time I met South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, in mid-July 2019, she shared a sincere hope for the future: The fireworks halted by President Barack Obama’s National Park Service in 2010 would be allowed to return to Mount Rushmore. President Donald Trump, she hoped, might come to South Dakota for the celebration.
The world has changed dramatically in the year since. The Chinese coronavirus halted the global economy, with every state but South Dakota shutting down. Riots rocked America’s cities and even her small towns, and citizens have been forced to watch as statues of the Founding Fathers, war veterans, abolitionists and even lynching victims have been vandalized, and in some cases toppled, decapitated or hung from streetlights by mobs cheered on by the Democratic Party and corporate media.
But on July 3, 2020, the governor’s vision was realized, with the president arriving to kick off a much-needed rally for a country tired of lockdown, unrest and mob rule.
Kicking off at 8:50, mountain time, the president gave a rousing speech, declaring, “This monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers fathers, and to our freedom.”
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash waves of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing it. They think the American people are weak and submissive, but no: The American people are strong and brave, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history and culture to be taken from them.”
“Not on my watch!” a spectator shouted in response, catching TV microphones.
“True, very true actually,” Trump replied to cheers.
“One of their political weapons is cancel culture,” he continued, “driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone. This is the very definition is completely alien to our culture, and to our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. This attack, when limiting our magnificent liberty, must be stopped. And it will be stopped very quickly.”
Chants of “USA!” followed.
It was a strongly contested event — one corporate media had done everything in their power to cancel just weeks after cheering on nationwide rallies against police.
One CNN medical analyst called it “the behavior of a cult leader… [who] asks his followers to jump on a cliff.” Host Kate Bolduan followed along with a straight face, introducing the segment as taking “the politics out of it.” CNN touted the accusation online shortly after.
“President Trump will be at Mount Rushmore,” CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago said in the lead-up, “Where he’ll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans.” Two years prior, when socialist Bernie Sanders had visited, CNN had called it a “monument to four great American presidents.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta then called it “a fitting campaign stop for a presidential contender looking to make history.”
The Washington Post featured the former superintendent of the park who had banned the fireworks 10 years prior to call the decision dangerous. (With the height fireworks detonate and incoming storms over the next few days, this is very unlikely despite decades of Park Service-led forest mismanagement.)
In a since-deleted tweet, the Democratic Party called it “a rally glorifying white supremacy at Mount Rushmore — a region once sacred to tribal communities.”
“We will expose this dangerous movement,” the president replied in his speech, “protect our nation’s children against this radical assault and preserve our beloved American way of life in our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms. There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. Speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras and follow its commandments — or you will be banished, blacklisted, persecuted and punished. Not going to happen to us.”
“Make no mistake: This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. And so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger. And they lifted humanity to new heights of achievement discovery and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue symbol and memory of our national heritage, A switcheroo, actually. That is why I am asking federal law enforcement to protect our monuments arrest the rioters and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”
In the lead up to last year’s widely hailed celebration, corporate media claimed the pride in the military served as a lead-up to dictatorship.
Protesters blocked the road to the monument to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt with three vans, removing the tires from two. Police and tow trucks removed them, with Fox News estimating 15 arrests.
In spite of the protests and doom-predictors, Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” played for the 7,500 waiting in the 90-degree heat for the historic celebration as Air Force One gave a flyover at 6:30 local time. The temperature mercifully fell to the 70s as the night went on, the United States Air Force Band entertained, and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” played while Marine One flew toward the landing zone to a loudspeaker-narrated countdown.
The president arrived with first lady Melania for the national anthem and military flybys.
It is “An attempt to cancel the founding generation is an attempt to cancel our freedoms,” Noem, the first female governor of South Dakota told the crowd, introducing the President Trump to standing ovation.
“Right now it is time to plant our flag and to protect the greatest of this nation,” the president said. “We’re citizens of every race in every city … We must protect and preserve our history, our heritage and our great heroes here tonight, before the eyes of our forefathers. Americans declare again as we did 244 years ago, that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people — it will not happen.”
“When he stepped down after two terms, his former adversary, King George, called him the greatest man of the age. He remains first in our hearts to this day. For as long as Americans love this land, we will honor and cherish the father of our country, George Washington. He will never be removed abolished. And most of all, he will never be forgotten.”
“Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity. No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America. And no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation.
“It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence, enshrining a divine truth that changed the world forever. When they said ‘All men are created equal,’ these immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our Founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights given us by our Creator in heaven, and that which God has given us. We will allow, no one ever to take them away — ever.”
And after more than a decade of quiet July 3 skies, at 9:30 p.m local time, the Independence Day fireworks filled the skies. There were no reported fires. The danger that faces our country, it seems, cannot be found in the celebration of its birth.