SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – As holiday weekend celebrations are winding down, we take a look back at Friday night at Mount Rushmore, where a large crowd gathered to celebrate the holiday with fireworks and a speech from the 45th President of the United States.
Among the crowd, at Mount Rushmore Friday night were the three members of South Dakota’s Congressional delegation.
“The thing that I loved about the Mount Rushmore Fourth of July celebration was the fact that it was a lot like the Fourth of July celebrations that people were having across the country. You get great fireworks, you get a lot of people who come together who love this country and want to celebrate it,” Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota said.
Not only did fireworks return to Mount Rushmore after more than a decade, but President Donald Trump attended and addressed the guests.
“There are any number of places that President Trump could’ve decided to celebrate July 3rd, the fact that he came to the Mount Rushmore State to see America’s Shrine of Democracy, to come together with so many freedom-loving Americans in our backyard is a big deal,” Johnson said.
Themes of Trump’s speech included praising America’s founding fathers, highlighting the Declaration of Independence and saying he won’t let the country’s history be taken away.
“I think his message was one of we have principles that are critical. They are the principles of our founding fathers and we’re not going to forget them,” Sen. (R) Mike Rounds said.
Trump also proposed a plan for a new monument park that would feature statues of notable Americans. Both Rounds and Johnson like that idea.
“I think he was sending a message that if there are parts of our country where they don’t want the statues, let’s not lose them, let’s not deface them. Let’s create a garden where they can be there. 50 years from now, 75 years, 100 years from now, people will look back at this and say this was the right thing to do. It was a part of history that should’ve been preserved,” Rounds said.
Rounds and Johnson both said they believe the United States is the greatest nation, but that it can work to be a more perfect union.
“We are, most certainly, never a perfect nation, but we’re still the greatest nation in the world and our job is to try to make it even better,” Rounds said.
“America is the greatest nation in the history of humankind, but it is not perfect. That has been something that the wisest Americans, the wisest men and women have always understood. That the journey is really about moving towards a more perfect union,” Johnson said.
We did reach out to Senator John Thune, but he was unavailable for an interview. A concern for many people regarding the event at Mount Rushmore was the threat of COVID-19 in such a large crowd. Johnson said he wore his mask throughout the entire event while Rounds said he wore his while interacting with others, but did spend some time without wearing one.