One reason I enjoy traveling is because I love to learn. Writers are inherently curious and want to know about everything. Sometimes in my travels I’m exposed to new things, while on other trips I’m simply reminded of things I’ve forgotten. During a recent two-week road trip, we stopped at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Even though I’ve been there a few times before, I’m always awed by the majesty of this beautiful monument.
On this particular visit, we stumbled upon a park ranger lecturing on the origins of Mount Rushmore. I wish I could remember his name because he gave an excellent presentation. His introduction caught my attention when he said there are two life lessons to be learned from Mount Rushmore. The first lesson is that everyone should have a dream. The second lesson is to work toward making that dream a reality and never give up.
His talk centered around Doane Robinson, a South Dakota state historian, who dreamed of creating a spectacular work of art that would bring people to his state from all over the world. In 1923, he proposed sculpting Western heroes on the giant granite pillars of the Needles in the Black Hills. After contacting talented sculptor Gutzon Borglum, he was persuaded to change the subjects to presidents of the United States and move the project to Mount Rushmore.
Robinson encountered one obstacle after another as he sought to obtain authorization and funds for the massive undertaking. Permission was given and funds were raised in 1925, and Borglum began carving in 1927. Although the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Act in 1929 provided more funding, the stock market crash in October jeopardized the project. Despite many setbacks, Borglum managed to complete the head of George Washington which was dedicated in 1930. Then in 1933 after eighteen months of carving, Thomas Jefferson had to be relocated from Washington’s right side to the left because of flaws in the stone, and the original Jefferson was dynamited. According to the park ranger’s account, Borglum and his team had to redesign the monument seven or eight times after the blasting and carving had started. Mount Rushmore took fourteen years to build and was completed by Borglum’s son, Lincoln in October of 1941.
Even though Doane Robinson is not well known, Mount Rushmore was his dream—a dream he lived long enough to see materialize. Without his dogged persistence, the world wouldn’t have this magnificent treasure. A goal is important not just because it gives us something to work toward, but also because of the growth and sense of accomplishment we gain along the way. What’s your dream?