A Republican governor sent Trump a surprising and hopeful list for his monument to American heroes
via Vote and wear your mask / Twitter and Wikimedia Commons

President Trump made a fiery, divisive Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore where he railed against "new far-left fascism." Trump's choice for the background was questionable, considering he's asked about having his face carved into the monument.

During the speech, he announced an executive order to create a National Garden of American Heroes, a park featuring statues of historical figures who've contributed to the nation's history.

Trump may include a bust of himself in the park because he's received "multiple nominations" for the garden. But at least one Republican governor has sent him a list of very different, truly American, heroes.


Although Trump would love the adoration that comes with having a statue of himself in the garden, historians stand firmly against the idea of a memorial being put up of a living person.

Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, said "it would be a mistake" to honor Trump or any living person. For public monuments, "that's a nonpartisan rule that pertains to anybody, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum. And I would defend that up and down all day."

The administration sent out requests to state and local governments for suggestions of who should be included in the garden. Suggestions are supposed to be in by September 1, but most governors, including all Democrats, have refused the request.

"We would encourage the White House to spend their time on the response to the coronavirus," said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger.

"I haven't given it a moment's thought," Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly told The Associated Press. "I have other things to do."

In the executive order, Trump says the following people should be included in the first round of statues: John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Daniel Boone, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Henry Clay, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Douglas MacArthur, Dolley Madison, James Madison, Christa McAuliffe, Audie Murphy, George S. Patton, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Betsy Ross, Antonin Scalia, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington, and Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The list is comprised of only white and black Americans and most political figures are right-wing.

Trump suggests Ronald Reagan, but not Franklin Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy?

via Doria Sears / Twitter

Oklahoma's Republican Governor Kevin Stitt shook up the president's narrow list by suggesting four people with Native American roots and two Black people.

Among the suggestions are:

Wilma Mankiller, an activist, social worker, community developer, and the first woman to be elected to to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Will Rogers, a fellow member of the Cherokee Nation, who was one of the most prominent humorists and social commentators of the early 1900s.

Jim Thorpe, a Sac and Fox/Pottawatomie citizen, who was one of the most versatile athletes in American sports history and the first Native American to win a gold medal.

He also suggested John Hope Franklin, a Black historian best known for his book "From Slavery to Freedom." Franklin was the grandson of a freed Chickasaw Nation slave. And Ada Louis Sipuel Fisher, who fought to become the first Black student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

"The Oklahomans on this list embody the history, spirit, resiliency and strength of our state and people," Stitt said. "They each left a legacy that has far extended past state lines and impacted our world for the better."

The suggestions were praised by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.

"They're Cherokee citizens, but in many ways they belong to the world in terms of the efforts they've put forth in their careers," Hoskin said of Mankiller and Rogers. "The fact that they're Cherokee, of course, is very important to me, and it reflects an effort to add some diversity to those sort of public monuments. I think that's a wonderful thing."

The president wants the statue garden opened before the nation's 250th birthday in 2026. He launched a new task for to create the park, the Interagency Task Force for Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes.

The task force comprises the chairs of the the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, both agencies the White House has aimed to drastically cut funding for in precious budgets.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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