Planned

President Biden Nixes Trump’s Planned Sculpture Garden Memorializing Antonin Scalia, Davy Crockett, and Other ‘American Heroes’


U.S. President Joe Biden has cancelled his predecessor’s plans to build a National Garden of American Heroes, which would have memorialized figures ranging from George Washington to Kobe Bryant.

In an executive order signed Friday, Biden rescinded six Trump actions, including two outlining plans for the garden and a third calling for harsh prison sentences for anyone convicted of vandalizing existing monuments, reports the Associated Press.

All three orders were part of the former president’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement. As protests swept the nation last summer, demonstrators toppled and defaced statues and monuments—mainly those commemorating Confederate leaders, but also other controversial figures, such as Christopher Columbus and George Washington, a slave owner.

Trump saw such moves as an attempt to tear down “America’s cultural heritage,” and deployed the National Guard to Washington, D.C., to protect monuments in June.

Protesters gather around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia, amidst protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images.

Protesters gather around the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 6, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia, amidst protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images.

Days later, Trump issued an executive order reinforcing the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, stating that the U.S. would “prosecute to the fullest extent possible under federal law” anyone who “destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue.”

“These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn,” the order read.

Trump announced his plan to build a sculpture garden memorial last July 4, during a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. It called for the garden, which was branded as “America’s answer to this reckless attempt to erase our heroes, values, and entire way of life” to be created by 2026.

A statue depicting Christopher Columbus is seen with its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on June 10, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images.

A statue depicting Christopher Columbus is seen with its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on June 10, 2020, in Boston. Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images.

In one of Trump’s final acts in office, he revealed the garden’s planned honorees (even though it was clear the project would never be completed under a Biden presidency). The list contained 244 names, ranging from politicians to athletes to actors, all of whom were meant to represent “the greatest Americans to ever live.” It included Julia Child, Davy Crockett, Billy Graham, Whitney Houston, Harriet Tubman, Antonin Scalia, and Cy Young, among others.

The garden’s cancellation is largely symbolic since no congressional funding had been designated for the garden, nor had a site been selected.

Biden has also revoked a Trump order calling on the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the alleged censorship of Trump on social media.

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Dozens of Angry Archaeologists Say a Planned Renovation of the Acropolis Will Degrade the World Heritage Site


Dozens of archeologists, university professors, and others around the world have signed an open letter protesting a series of renovations planned for the Acropolis in Athens, a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

The group says the plans, which include overhauling a major entrance to the Propylaea, the site’s monumental gateway, would be “equivalent to the degradation, concealment, and devaluation of the greatest archaeological and artistic treasure that has been bequeathed to modern Greece, in which humanity has entrusted its preservation.”

According to the Art Newspaper, which first reported the news, the renovation proposal was put together by architectural restorer Manolis Korres, the president of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee, and approved by the Central Archaeological Council in February. It focuses on the reconstruction of the Roman marble staircase, the Acropolis’s western access point, erected in the 1st century AD.

The goal, per Korres’s proposal, is to restore the “monumentality” and “authenticity” of the structure, a task that would necessitate the removal of previous repair work, and “resolve visitor traffic management issues.” A proper survey of the staircase will commence this fall, after which the Greek ministry of culture will initiate a construction plan.

However, the letter, first issued in late February, argues that the proposed changes will “create very serious technical and operational problems,” and even limit the site’s ability to handle large crowds of tourists—the opposite of the intended effect.

Additionally, the letter raises aesthetic concerns about the mismatching of architectural styles across different eras. 

The plan stands “contrary to the internationally recognized and established principles concerning the preservation, conservation, and safeguarding of antiquities,” the signatories say.

The Greek ministry of culture did not respond to Midnight Publishing Group News’s request for comment.

In a March statement, the department rejected the letter’s concerns, maintaining that the planned renovations will return the Western entrance to its “original ancient form” based on “exhaustive archaeological-architectural documentation.” Meanwhile, the oldest sections of the architecture “will remain visible and accessible.” 

Renovations to the Acropolis, one of the world’s most treasured archaeological sites, are often met with controversy. The last example came last fall, when the ministry upgraded old walkways with reinforced concrete, ostensibly to make them more accessible to people with disabilities.

However, the signatories of the February letter contended that the changes were made just to “accommodate even larger crowds of summer tourists.”

After nearly five months of lockdown, the Acropolis and other open-air archaeological sites in Greece reopened to the public on March 21 of this year. 

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