On Sunday night, our family went to see that great American landmark that drew us to South Dakota in the first place — back several months ago when Emma said, “I’d like to see that place in the United States with the faces in the mountain.” At that time, I didn’t even know exactly where in the US Mount Rushmore was, and had a vague sense that maybe I’d already seen it (I’d seen Stone Mountain in Georgia, as it turns out). Now I know it’s in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it was carved under the direction of Gutzon Borglum between 1927 and 1941 … and so much more.
I also know that if you go to the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore, and a spectacular electrical storm comes up on the other side of the mountain, you get to see the magnificent sight of Mount Rushmore lit up artificially from the front, and naturally from behind, which is quite impressive, to say the least!
The ceremony is, of course, a shameless indulgence of the kind of flag-waving patriotism Americans do so well — but when somebody’s taken the trouble to carve four giant heads in the side of a mountain, you’ve got to hand it to them and allow them their bit of flag-waving. I sat through it wondering what would happen if Canadians were to suddenly be overcome with that kind of patriotic fervor and decide to carve out our own Mount Rushmore. Which four of our leaders’ heads would we put up there? After pondering awhile I figured I’d go for Macdonald, Laurier, King and Trudeau … but I’m sure some would disagree with me! And maybe the whole idea of prime ministers’ heads is way too old-school and patriarchal — maybe we should pick four writers, or artists, or musicians, or ordinary Canadians who made some kind of contribution to our nation’s identity and history. Any suggestions?
Or maybe we should do one of our own in Newfoundland? Since we’re already blowing huge chunks out of the South Side Hills, why not take the opportunity to produce some public art? What four Newfoundlanders would you want to see carved in the side of a mountain? I’m still thinking about that one …