Donald Trump orders creation of national heroes garden
The United States President, Donald Trump, has given an executive order to create a "National Garden of American Heroes".
The new executive order on Saturday July 4th, 2020, is aimed at defending what Trump calls "our great national story" against those who vandalize statues.
The order gives a new task force 60 days to present plans, including a location, for the garden.
Mr Trump insists the new statues must be life-like, "not abstract or modernist".
Many US statues have been pulled down since the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in the custody of police in May, 2020.
Monuments of historical link to the slave-owning Confederacy during the Civil War in America have been especially targeted in the nationwide protests spiked by the death of the Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 nine minutes.
President Trump defended Confederate symbols, saying they are a part of American heritage.
He has also condemned the anti-racism protesters who toppled statues during his speech to mark Independence Day at Mount Rushmore.
He said America's national heritage was being threatened - an emotive appeal for patriotism.
State authorities and civic organisations are invited to donate statues for the garden, which is expected to be in a place of natural beauty near a city. It is to be opened by 4 July, 2026, as contained in the executive order.
However, controversies are likely to ensue over Mr Trump's choice of historical figures to be commemorated in the garden.
The "historically significant" list includes predictably founding fathers of America like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, frontierman Davy Crockett, evangelical Christian preacher Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan and World War Two heroes Douglas MacArthur and George Patton.
Other statues will be of African American civil rights campaigners Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.
The president, who has been heavily criticized for his handling of the US Corona virus pandemic, made little reference to the coronavirus disease that has now claimed almost 130,000 American lives.
The US recorded its largest single-day rise in coronavirus infections on Friday 3 July, 2020, bringing the total in the country to more than 2.5 million - the most of any country.