National News

Catholic Saints, Political Figures, Athletes Among Those to Be Honored in National Garden of American Heroes

President Donald Trump speaks in a video message in Washington Jan. 13, 2021. (Photo: CNS/The White House via Twitter, Handout via Reuters)

The Tablet Staff

MANHATTAN President Donald Trump has issued an executive order calling for building a new garden, the National Garden of American Heroes, that will honor a diverse group of individuals whose contributions have enriched American life and history. 

Following a tumultuous 2020, “America is responding to the tragic toppling of monuments to our founding generation and the giants of our past by commencing a new national project for their restoration, veneration, and celebration,” President Trump wrote Jan. 18 in the executive order. 

“The National Garden will feature a roll call of heroes who deserve honor, recognition, and lasting tribute because of the battles they won, the ideas they championed, the diseases they cured, the lives they saved, the heights they achieved, and the hope they passed down to all of us — that united as one American people trusting in God, there is no challenge that cannot be overcome and no dream that is beyond our reach,” he said.

The National Garden of American Heroes will include numerous Catholics, among them statues of five Catholic saints and others on the path to sainthood. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. John Neumann, St. Junipero Serra, and St. Katharine Drexel will be among those honored. Ven. Fulton Sheen, Ven. Augustus Tolton and Servant of God Dorothy Day will also have statues dedicated in their memory. 

Archbishop John Carroll, S.J., the first Catholic archbishop in the United States, and March for Life founder Nellie Gray are also among those to be enshrined in the National Garden of American Heroes.  

“The National Garden will be built to reflect the awesome splendor of our country’s timeless exceptionalism. It will be a place where citizens, young and old, can renew their vision of greatness,” wrote Trump. 

He first proposed the garden last summer, while visiting Mount Rushmore. The task force for the project has completed the first phase of its work and will publish an annual public progress report on the completion of the garden and erection of statues. The garden is expected to open before July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Political figures will also be among the garden statues, including Catholic president John F. Kennedy, Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“Astounding the world by the sheer power of their example, each one of them has contributed indispensably to America’s noble history, the best chapters of which are still to come,” said Trump.

Catholic athletes will also be honored, including basketball player Kobe Bryant, baseball players Roberto Clemente and Babe Ruth, and football legend Vince Lombardi.