With less than 100 hours left in his presidency, Donald J. Trump has signed a very detailed executive order to create a National Garden of American Heroes. Among those to be honored: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The man, the myth, the legend — and soon to be made immortal in stone.
Trump originally announced the creation of the monument back in July 2020; this week’s order builds upon that with specifics, including a full list of the statues Trump wants to be included in the garden. The list is… varied, to say the least, and chaotic by any measure. The statue of Jobs will stand alongside other big names like Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Alex Trebek.
“The National Garden will be built to reflect the awesome splendor of our country’s tireless exceptionalism,” Trump says in the order. “It will be a place where citizens, young and old, can renew their vision of greatness and take up the challenge that I gave every American in my first address to Congress, to ‘believe in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe, once more, in America.’”
We don’t really need more physical reminders of American exceptionalism, but a garden with nearly 250 statues will certainly stand as a reminder of the country’s intense preoccupation with its successes. If it’s ever built, that is.
That’s a lot of statues — Trump’s latest executive order is all over the place, in terms of both tone and content. About half of the order is taken up by a rambling list of famous people to be included in the garden’s statue collection. It’s a diverse crew, ranging from past presidents to political theorists to innovators like Jobs.
Here’s a sampling of the list, just to better underscore the chaos:
- Ingrid Bergman
- Hannah Arendt
- Ruth Bader Ginsberg
- Julia Child
- The Marquis de Lafayette
- Elvis Presley
- Nikola Tesla
In total, Trump’s list includes 244 famous people, all of whom are meant to be made into statues and live together in the National Garden of American Heroes. The order defines a “historically significant American” as “an individual who made substantive contributions to America’s public life or otherwise had a substantive effect on America’s history.” Just broad enough to include… just about anyone famous. Who came up with this list, anyway?
The garden’s eventual location and size are yet to be determined.
Jobs would’ve hated this — Trump’s list of potential statues takes many twists and turns; Steve Jobs is one of the stranger inclusions, but how about Hannah Arendt, who wrote political treatises on totalitarianism and evil? Or Barry Goldwater, a politician with famously libertarian leanings? These people fit Trump’s definition of an American hero, but they certainly wouldn’t agree with his ideology.
Jobs isn’t here to give us his views on Trump’s presidency, but we can say with a fair amount of certainty that he wouldn’t have taken kindly to it. He was vocal in his support for left-leaning causes like the environment and racial justice, and he practiced Zen Buddhism, which generally regards every life as sacred — an ethical line frequently crossed by the Trump administration.
Wherever the Garden of American Heroes ends up being, it’s sure to be a spectacle. A strange, ideologically-confused one — but a spectacle nonetheless. American exceptionalism indeed.