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Why Mount Rushmore Is Special To Me

In 1987, while on a 3 month motorcycle trip around the United States and Canada with my father, I had the pleasure of seeing Mount Rushmore. Of all the things I seen on that journey, and there were many, standing at the foot of Mount Rushmore was the most awe inspiring thing that has stuck with my memories over the years.

One thing that made the experience even better, while in the information center, my father and I were standing in front of a firelplace commenting on how beautiful it was. It was a stone, arched fireplace built to warm the workers when they came in to get measurements for the monument and discuss things with Mr. Borglum.
Note: There was and exact model of the of what was to be built in a 1:12 scale. The reason for that was to make it easy for the craftsmen to take measurements. Each inch represented one foot of measurement for the actual work to be done.
While standing at the fireplace a distinguishably aged man next to me was wiping tears from his eyes with a handkerchief, which caught my attention, his wife was holding onto his other arm. He noticed my attention and straighten himself and told me that his father had built that fireplace, the keystone was his signature and when growing up, he'd listened to his father telling him stories of working at Mount Rushmore. He repeated several of the stories that gave even more insight than what was present at the information center. This was the man's first time of actually seeing the fireplace built by his father.

Both my father and I shook his hand and told him how it was a pleasure to meet him and hear his stories, someone with a personal link to the monument and it's history.

As for sculptured mountains - Civilization, even its fine arts, is, most of it, quantity-produced stuff: education, law, government, wealth - each is enduring only as the day.
Too little of it lasts into tomorrow and tomorrow is strangely the enemy of today, as today has already begun to forget buried yesterday.
Each succeeding civilization forgets its predecessor, and out of its body builds its homes, its temples. Civilizations are ghouls. Egypt was pulled apart by its successor; Greece was divided among the Romans; Rome was pulled to pieces by bigotry and bitterness much of which was engendered its own empire building.
I want, somewhere in America, on or near the Rockies, the backbone of the Continent, so far removed from succeeding, selfish, coveting civilizations, a few feet of stone that bears witness, carries the likeness, the dates, a word or two of the great things we accomplished as a Nation, placed so high it won't pay to pull them down for lesser purposes.
Hence, let us place there, carved high, as close to heaven as we can, the words of our leaders, their faces, to show posterity what manner of men they were. Then breathe a prayer that these records will endure until the wind and rain alone shall wear them away. 

To me Mount Rushmore symbolized the motorcycle trip my father and I were on. A trip that had been long talked about, a dream discussed around many campfires we's shared on various adventures, a trip he had named, The Big One. The ultimate motorcycle ride, to tour together as father and son around America that would be three months long, with no particular place to go. We crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls coming back into the United States at Sault Saint Marie, Michigan.

Like the monument, our dream was grand on scale. As I stood there at the fireplace, two months into the trip with my father at my side, I realized that we were carving memories into the granite of our minds. A monument to father and son and adventure, using motorcycles as our tools to build something that around future campfires we could stand before these memories in awe that we had accomplished a grand dream. I would write more, but like the fireplace builder's son, I too find myself using a handkerchief as my father is gone now.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." ~Dr. Suess
(this quote is carved in stone there)
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

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