Second Look column: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse

Linda Wallace

Election time makes me think about being patriotic. Going to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota made me patriotic! That place is amazing.

We arrived to the area in the dark. When we drove around a turn, there were the four faces lit up on Mt. Rushmore, looking down from high above. It took my breath away. I hadn’t expected to see it that way on my first viewing. That is the beauty of travel. You never know what amazing thing will come to you to view.

If you ever get a chance to go see the granite hill of Mt. Rushmore, go. This unbelievable place started as an idea to draw sightseers to giant carved statues in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our big country demands big art.

In 1923 state historian Doane Robinson suggested this type of art. An unconventional sculptor named Gutzon Borglum made his name famous because he thought “America” meant “big.”

Borglum envisioned four US presidents beside an entablature inscribed with a brief history of the country.

President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the memorial in 1927, commencing 14 years of work. Only six years were spent on the actual carving, costing nearly one million dollars.

The Washington head was dedicated in 1930, followed by Jefferson in 1936, Lincoln in 1937, and Roosevelt in l939. Fifty years later in 1941, the final dedication was held.

Red Anderson, a former Mt. Rushmore carver said, “More and more we sensed that we were creating a truly great thing, and after a while all of us old hands became truly dedicated to it and determined to stick to it.”

I can see why that happened. If you get to go to see the evening dedication, they have any veterans come forward to be recognized for their service to this country. You can’t help but feel patriotic to America, this great land of the free.

When you visit the colossal grounds of the Crazy Horse Memorial you will learn the story of how and why sculptor Korczak Ziokowski decided to sculpt the famous chief, Crazy Horse. He started work on the mountain in l949 at the age of 40 with only $179 in his pockets.

Korczak was invited to the Black Hills by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. He felt Crazy Horse should be a nonprofit educational and cultural, humanitarian project built by interested public members and not taxpayers federal funds.

The four presidential faces on Mt. Rushmore could fit in the sculptured head of Crazy Horse. The visitor’s center is filled with thousands of Indian artifacts and beautiful works of art for all to enjoy.

You can get more information about the exhibit at: The Indian Museum is a huge collection exhibited in several halls. The museum includes hands on exhibits for the young and old.

Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills in 1842. He was stabbed in the back and died at the hands of an American soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

The sculpture is to be a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse, rather than a likeness. It is lighted each evening and is open year round. It is well worth seeing.

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