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Historian Michael Beschloss: Trump has "no business" dictating who is an American hero

Data: Trump Executive Order and Axios reporting. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Delivering on a promise he made at Mount Rushmore this summer, President Trump yesterday released his 244 candidates for a "National Garden of American Heroes."

By the numbers: Men outnumber women nearly four to one (192 to 52). 86 of the nominees,nearly a third, were born between 1900 and 1950. 


The first person born was Christopher Columbus, in 1451.

  • Last born was Kobe Bryant, in 1978.
  • Most recent death was Alex Trebek.

Oldest was NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson at 101.

  • Youngest was Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War soldier and spy who was executed by the British at 21.

Axios asked historian Michael Beschloss, whose Twitter feed is a gusher of fascinating period photos, for his view of the list:

No President of the United States or federal government has any business dictating us citizens who our historical heroes should be. This is not Stalin’s Russia.
Any American who loves democracy should make sure there is never some official, totalitarian-sounding "National Garden of American Heroes," with names forced upon us by the federal government.
The glory of American democracy is that every one of our citizens decides who his or her personal heroes are. That is not the prerogative of any President, especially one rejected by American voters and who is on his way out the door.
Many of the people on this list of "heroes" would be embarrassed to be singled out by someone like Donald Trump.
If "the heroes of 1776 have been desecrated," as Trump claims, that desecration was done by champions of authoritarianism who attacked American democracy, culminating in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Congress and Capitol — and by the president who has incited them.
If "the brave warriors who saved freedom from Nazi fascism have been disgraced," as Trump claims, that was done by the 45th president, who praised Nazis, racists, anti-Semites and their sympathizers after the Charlottesville attacks of 2017.

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