Tuesday, September 4, 2012

AP 5, Speaking to Inform, The Abstract Concept

Below is the speech which I have done based on research from various sources. It is posted here is based on my limited understanding and purely for sharing purposes.

The Presidents’ Mountain

In the Black Hills of South Dakota stood the grand sculptures of 4 great presidents of the United States of America. Have you even wondered who they are and what do they represent? Or the significance that they have in the land of freedom?

It all started in the 1920s in the heydays before the Great Depression some 10 years later. State historian Doane Robinson believed that a big country demanded big art. Robinson wanted the sculptures to be on the Needles Mountain in South Dakota – so named because of the sky piercing granite spires on the mountain. Many people snuffed at the idea. Some proclaimed that “Man makes statues, but God made the Needles”.

The Presidents’ Mountain or Mount Rushmore National Memorial, started as a celebration of all things American. It meant patriotism and what America was all about. It represented the ideology of America. Today, I will like to share with you what I have researched and what this ideology is all about.

The 4 presidents chosen to be immortalized represented the ideals that Americans held dear to their heart – democracy. What does “democracy” embody?

George Washington was the commander of the Revolutionary army. After winning the war, many of Washington’s most senior officers believed that the natural order of events was to decide who would become the King of the new country. They consulted with civilian leaders and wanted to crown Washington as King. Washington declined and within a few months he and his officers retired from the army, ending the idea of a “King of the United States”.

What does this episode tell us? It tells that George Washington believed that all human beings possess natural rights. He believed the legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of individuals. And this is what George Washington, the first U.S. president said at his first Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789:

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

That is democracy.

Next was we had Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president. He was a man of great vision. He was the mastermind of the Louisiana Purchase. It was the greatest real estate deal in history. The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France at a price of $15 million, or about four cents an acre. The ratification of the Louisiana Purchase treaty by the Senate on October 20, 1803, doubled the size of the United States and opened up the continent to its westward expansion. And this far-sighted man too believed fervently that men are created equal and penned the Declaration of Independence.

He said this at the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. July 4, is independence day or the national day of the U.S.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We also have the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, whose leadership restored the Union and ended slavery on U.S. soil.

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand.”

Abraham Lincoln, Address at Cooper Union, February 27, 1860

The 26th president Theodore Roosevelt promoted the construction of the Panama canal, a 82-km ship canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, opening up international maritime trade. He also ignited progressive causes such as conservation and economic reform.

At the address at Carnegie Hall, March 30, 1912, President Roosevelt proclaimed:

"We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men. If on this new continent we merely build another country of great but unjustly divided material prosperity, we shall have done nothing."

From this speech, we see that President Roosevelt strongly believed in the right of the people to rule.

In conclusion, Mount Rushmore stands as a shrine of democracy, a monument and memorial to the U.S. birth, growth and ideals. Of democracy, it is the belief that men are created equal, the right of the people to rule, the ideals of freedom and equality for all.

I will like to end my speech with the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, a stanza from the poem by Emma Lazarus.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
U.S. strongly believes that all men are equal. Its arms are wide-open to welcome the poor and oppressed can start afresh.

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