Just two days before he leaves office, President Donald Trump has announced more details of his previously announced plans for a "National Garden of American Heroes," which he now wants to feature more than 200 statues.
On Monday, the president released an eclectic list of famous figures who would be commemorated for their contributions to American life, including some who weren't born in the U.S. such as Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, and Alex Trebek.
There are two Minnesota natives and three with strong links to Minnesota who will apparently get statues. They are:
- Norman Borlaug: The famed agronomist who led the "Green Revolution" and who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize received his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees at the University of Minnesota.
- Herb Brooks: The St. Paul native who led Team USA to hockey gold in "The Miracle on Ice."
- Cass Gilbert: The famous architect was born in Ohio but moved to St. Paul as a child, and it's where he got his first job. He designed numerous churches, offices, and homes in St. Paul, as well as a little-known building known as the Minnesota State Capitol.
- William Mayo: a native of Le Sueur who was one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder: Born in Pepin Co., Wisconsin, Wilder lived for a few years in Walnut Grove, and Minnesota featured in some of her Little House on the Prairie novels.
There are a few names in the list with somewhat more tenuous ties to Minnesota, including Lewis Walter Alvarez, the experimental physicist and 1968 Nobel Prize winner who spent a few years attending Rochester High School. Amelia Earhart, who spent a year at school in St. Paul, also made the list, as did evangelical Christian figure Billy Graham, who was the president of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.
But there are some notable omissions from Minnesota in the list too. There is a place for Shirley Temple, but no Judy Garland; Ernest Hemingway is included, but not F. Scott Fitzgerald or Sinclair Lewis; there's room for Whitney Houston, but not Prince.
Trump says the statue garden is being commissioned in response to a number of incidents over the past year in which statues have been pulled down across the U.S. amid further scrutiny of brutality and racism in U.S. history.
Among those pulled down was the statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, which was the work of members of the American Indian Movement in Minnesota, who object to the veneration of Columbus due to his brutality towards and enslavement Native Americans.
Columbus is among the statues confirmed in the president's planned garden.