Fifth National Park: Mount Rushmore


“A monument’s dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated.”-Gutzon Borglum.

Ever since I saw the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets, it has always been my dream to visit one of our nation’s greatest monuments: Mount Rushmore. (And yes, I am writing this post while listening to the soundtrack). And ever since moving to Iowa and realizing we were only 6 hours away, I have desperately wanted to go. This summer I finally made it to the Black Hills.


The birth of Mount Rushmore began with a proposition made by South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson in 1923. Interestingly, his idea had nothing to do with immortalizing four of our nation’s presidents but rather to carve spirelike granite formations of Old West heroes. It was Gutzon Borglum, who had agreed to do the carving, that shifted the subject matter to United States presidents in 1925.

“Let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show prosperity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and the rain alone shall wear them away.”-Gutzon Borglum.

Two years later, Borglum began carving the monument. The first face, George Washington, was dedicated on July 4th of 1930. Five years later, Borglum and his men figure out where on the monument to place Lincoln’s head. A year later, Jefferson’s head was dedicated. An interesting tidbit about the monument, a face of Susan B Anthony was almost added to the monument but then legislation voted against it. In 1937, Lincoln’s head was dedicated and the following year work on Teddy Roosevelt’s began. This great monument was finally completed on October 31, 1941. 


Why did Borglum choose these four presidents? Why was not say John Adams included? These four presidents were chosen because each of these men portray a significant part of our nation’s history. Additionally, these four men symbolize the first 150 years of our nation’s history. George Washington, after leading our nation to victory in our war for independence from Great Britain, established a new American government. Thomas Jefferson symbolizes Westward Expansion with the purchasing of the Louisiana Purchase. Teddy Roosevelt signifies the development of the United States as a world leader. Finally, Abraham Lincoln symbolizes the perseveration of America by extending freedom to all Americans no matter the color of their skin.   


My first introduction to the monument came from staring out the window of my seat. It was still an incredible moment but not as amazing as seeing it from outside. It is truly breathtaking. After parking your vehicle in the designated areas and pass the restrooms and bookstore, you come to this overhead called the Grandview Terrace.


Grand View Terrace with a glimpse of the Presidents’ Faces.

Passing through this entrance, you come to what is called the Avenue of Flags. I do not have a photo of the flags but in addition to these flags there are also pillars that have the dates of when the fifty states joined the Union. I do have a one photo to illustrate.


I did not have time to find the pillar containing MA which is sad because that is my home state. But I was able to snag one of Hawaii.

Going on from there, you come to this great open area which leads down to the Amphitheater with the monument above it. It was here that I got some closer up photos of the monument. Like the one at the beginning of this post.

There are two trails that visitors can hike to see various spots in the national park: the Presidential and Nature Trail. I am not sure which of these is portrayed in the National Treasure movie. Maybe one day I can try and figure that out. Because my visit to this National Park was part of this year’s LYA trip and we did not have a lot of time, I opted out of hiking and instead explored the museum.

The museum is one floor and broken down into a main area with some display cases, the bookstore/giftshop, and another exhibit hall where you learn the history behind the carving of the monument and the meaning behind it. Here are the photos I took of the exhibits that you first discover upon entering the building:


There was so much to see and learn that it is hard to pick and choose which photos to show on here especially since I took roughly 502 photos while there. I think my favorite part of the museum was this small alcove where there is this  mural that highlights each president and the time period they lived in. The first image was my attempt to encompass the entire thing which did not work very well. So I decided to capture each president’s section separately starting with our first president. The last two photos of Washington are just close ups of dates that are important to Revolutionary War history.


Moving on from there we stepped into a larger room  full of display cases with various artifacts that highlighted the process behind the construction of Mount Rushmore. There was also a video that discussed it as well.

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After taking a few minutes to examine each display case and watch the video, my parents, Becky, and I moved on to the giftshop/bookstore. The giftshop was your typical store. It was full of souvenirs ranging from bookmarkers to postcards to coins to educational toys for children. They also had a nice collection of books which sadly were priced rather high.

Ever since visiting some of the American Revolution sites out East, it has been my tradition to buy postcards from each place to remember the experience by. At Mount Rushmore, I bought four postcards and then splurged and bought a deck of cards. But this deck of cards is no ordinary deck. These cards are historical document themed. Also pictured is the official Mount Rushmore National Park map. I have quite a collection of National Park maps.



My final stop before returning to the bus was a second giftshop. I had wanted to find a keychain that had my name on it and Mount Rushmore. I have one from Gettysburg but I couldn’t find one. Instead, I bought three flags. Originally, I was just going to buy a United States flag with all fifty states. But then I came across Betsy Rose’s flag (which is the middle one down below) and then I just had to buy the same flag but with the date of 1776 on it. I was going to stop there but after watching the John Adams miniseries I had to get the Don’t Tread on Me one.


Though I did not hike any of the trails, it was a good visit. I definitely want to come back. There is so much to see in the touristy town you pass on the way up to the Mount Rushmore visitor center. There is also a Presidential Wax Museum which features a Churchill exhibit that I desperately want to see. And there is this Founding Fathers exhibit we passed on the way that I want to explore.

Note: There will be more posts regarding some the other four National Parks I have visited. They will just show up on here out of order due to the fact this blog did not exist at the time of the visit.

The Role of the Historian

This week marks the third week of graduate school. I am enjoying two of my three classes.  I really dislike my historical methods class. However, in today’s class reading, I came across two key quotes that I feel is still relevant to society today.

Here is the first quote:

In the teaching of history, we must be on our guard to preserve the truth; not to do what Germany has done–not to falsify and distort truth in order to gain an advantage.”-Novick, chapter 5

Though this quote is referring to World War I, I feel this can be applied to the events concerning the tearing down and the destruction of Civil War statues of Southern generals because people believe they signify racism. Historians and historical museums should not be buying into this. They should, instead, be fighting for the preservation of these statues. They should not be allowing them to be taken down. Thankfully, Gettysburg National Park has refused to take down their statues of southern generals. Other historical parks should follow suit.

Here is the second quote:

“There is one sacrifice no historian must make. He must not distort or pervert the facts of history to suit the present struggle.”-Novick Chapter 5

Historians should not compromise the truth just because the world wants them to. Instead, they should stand up for what is right and what is true. Is this just a historian’s job though?

No. It is our duty as Americans to stand up to the idiocies of our society and prevent the tearing down of our heritage. No matter how horrible or ugly the past is, it is still our history. It is still worth being preserved. Why? Because it reminds us of the mistakes our forefathers have made in order that we might learn from them and not let such tragedies occur again.


The Creation Museum + The Ark= 1st Museum of 2017

19554961_10212461164617757_6379947955564291110_nLast Wednesday at 8 am, myself and eleven other people, left the safety of small town Iowa and headed for the craziness of the big city. What big city did we travel to? Cincinnati, Ohio. It was here in this city we spent four days at a youth conference.

On Thursday, my group headed for the Creation Museum which is located in Petersburg, KY. The Creation Museum was established in May of 2007 and was created by Ken Ham, who operates the organization known as Answers in Genesis. This organization helps to promote the Biblical story of Creation and disavow Evolution.

The museum has two levels: a lower and upper floor. Both floors include exhibits featuring Biblical history such as the Garden of Eden and the Voyage of the Ark.  I put together a small slideshow of some of the photos I took from the Garden of Eden Exhibit.

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Here are some more photos from the Biblical Story exhibit.

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The following day, 255 people (that is the number of people attending the conference) climbed aboard coach buses and traveled back into KY, this time to Williamstown where Answers and Genesis constructed a life-size replica of the Ark.

The experience, though very rewarding at the Ark, was very different from our trip to the Creation Museum. First difference, it was raining–badly. Despite this annoyance since no one had umbrellas, it did add to the authenticity of it. Second difference, I did not sleep well the night before. I woke up at 4 in the morning and then had to get up at 6:45 for breakfast at 7. So basically I was walking around the Ark like a zombie. Third difference, it was extremely crowded–more so than the museum–and made it hard to take photos.

However, I did capture a few photos.

The Ark Encounter has three levels with each level telling the story of the ark. Some levels also have videos. We sat and watched one video which told the story of a news reporter who didn’t believe in God who goes to interview a man named Noah about the creation of the Ark in Williamstown, KY.

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The really neat thing that the Ark showed through exhibits is the fact that Noah and his family did not just sit around and do nothing. They actually had chores to do. They made things out of wood. They took out garbage and both human and animal waste.

Though this was a very exhausting trip both traveling from IA to OH and during the conference, I had a great time exploring the Ark and Creation Museum. And I hope you enjoy reading this post and looking at some of the photos I included.

All The Gallant Men

IMG_00432016 marked the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. To commemorate this event, several new documentaries such as Remember Pearl Harbor created by the World War II Foundation and narrated by actor Tom Selleck and Into the Arizona as well as new books on the attack. One such book was All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton (which is pictured on the left).

Ever since I learned of this book’s publication last December, I have been eager to read it for two reasons. The first was I have always had a fascination with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The second Donald Stratton’s book is the only memoir written by a survivor of the USS Arizona. No other survivor has written a book about their experience during that terrible day in American history–a date which will live in infamy.

Due to school and not having enough time either during school or on break, I was unable to read it…until eight days ago.

The book was amazing! It was well written. During the chapters dedicated to the attack and afterwards, I felt as if I was there watching the horrific events of that day unfold. The images formed in my mind were so vividly painted there were times where I had to put the book down. It was a very emotional yet worthwhile experience. I highly recommend this book.  This book not only supplements the resources already written on the attack but it also brings a new perspective to the table. A perspective only someone who was there could have.

Though it has been eight days since I read the last page of the epilogue of Donald Stratton’s book, I still remember it. I have never read a book that has impacted my life in such a profound way.

This is my check

This is a photo of who checked out the book. July 1st is the day I checked it out. It is sad to see that only three people (including myself) have checked out this book.


To document reading this book, I decided to take a book selfie.

There are SO many wonderful quotes from Donald’s book. One of my favorites comes from his granddaughter Nikki. Here is a photo of it.

Nikki Stratton Quote

Quote from All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton. Photo of quote taken by GEhistorian.


What’s on the Historian’s Desk?

I try to read history books during the summer as often as I can. Sometimes this doesn’t always happen because I get easily distracted by the latest historical fiction or Christian contemporary romance novel that recently came out.

However, this summer I decided to read both. One of my favorite time periods is the American Revolution and I decided to read John Adams by David McCullough. I am really enjoying it! McCullough’s reading style is very easy to understand.


In addition to McCullough’s book, I picked up from the library today All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton.  Stratton’s book came out last December as part of the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack. This book is a memoir account by Donald Stratton who served on the USS Arizona on December 7th, 1941. I have wanted to read this book since it came out but just didn’t have the time while in school to read it. I am also enjoying this book. Donald Stratton has a remarkable way with words that captures the reader’s attention.


Fireman Third Class Glaydon Iverson

“Poor is the nation that has no heroes, but poorer still is the nation that having heroes, fails to remember and honor them.”-Cicero.

Memorial Day Memories{A Blog Link-up}

Every year I try to write a Facebook status post on Memorial Day remembering those who have given up their lives to protect their country and loved ones. While that is still a good thing to do, I wanted to do more than just a Facebook status. A couple days ago, I stumbled upon Historical Fiction author Jesseca Dawn’s website where she came up with a blog link up that will honor those who have fallen. I have decided to join this blog link up.

I have had several family members who have been in the military but I am unsure if any of them died in battle. Because of this I have chosen a local Navy sailor who died during World War II. His name is Fireman 3rd Class Glaydon Ignatius Clement Iverson. He served onboard the USS Oklahoma and died on December 7, 1941 when the ship was attacked by a Japanese torpedo.


This was the telegram his parents received in February the following year after receiving word from the Navy their son was reported missing following the action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country:

“Mr. Edwin M. Iverson, Emmons, Minnesota. Washington, D.C. 10:31 PM February 14, 1942. After an exhaustive search it has been found impossible to locate your son Glaydon Ignatius Clement Iverson, Fireman Third Class, US Navy, and he has therefore been officially declared to have lost his life in the service of his country as of December 7, 1941. The Department expresses to you its sincere sympathy. Rear Admiral Ryndall Jacops, Chief of Bureau of Navigation.”

For 75 years, Glaydon’s remains lay in Halawa Cemetery in Hawaii unable to be identified…until 2016. Thanks to mitochondrial DNA, Glaydon’s remains where identified. A funeral service was held for him yesterday in his home town and he will be buried beside his parents in the local cemetery.

Not much is known about this brave sailor because it was too difficult of a subject to be discussed among Glaydon’s family members.

Glaydon Ignatius Clement Iverson was born on October 31, 1917 in Freeborn Count, Minnesota (Emmons). His parents were Edwin and Anna Iverson. He and his family attended the local Lutheran church in Emmons. He graduated from Emmons Public School in 1936.


In February of 1941, Glaydon enlisted in the United States Navy and was stationed at the US Naval School in Dearborn, Michigan. Later in September, he boarded the ship USS Oklahoma and traveled from San Francisco, California to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He died on December 7, 1941.


Rest in peace Gladyon Iverson and thank you for your service!

Photos of Glaydon were taken from his online obituary.