Happy Birthday America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

America is a passionate idea or it is nothing. America is a human brotherhood or it is chaos. Max Lerner

Mount Rushmore

Six years ago this month, Kitch and I visited Mount Rushmore.Rushmore Affectionately known as the shrine of our democracy, it is an inspirational statement about America at its best.

Conceptualized and designed by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and finished under the supervision of his son, Lincoln Borglum, the project was 14 years in the making, 1927- 1941. It is a testimony to creativity, courage, dreams, enterprise, industry, hard work and perseverance.

The actual construction began in 1935. Those in the know tell us that 400 men worked on the project. Some unskilled workers earned 50 cents an hour while other workers earned 65 cents an hour. Skilled drillers earned $1.25 an hour. The total cost of the project was 1 million dollars.

Workers Rushmore

Without the support of President Calvin Coolidge, the project would have never been completed. After his vacation visit to Mt. Rushmore, President Coolidge used his influence to get public funding through congress to finance the project.

In 1936 when the project was half finished, President Franklin Roosevelt visited Mount Rushmore. Looking at the images of Washington and Jefferson, he said the work was an example of cooperating with nature not fighting with nature.

When the project was completed, 450,000 tons of granite rock had been dynamited and replaced with the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Of the 400 men who worked on the project, only two men sustained minor injuries.

According to records of the National Park Service, 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year.

In October of this year, the monument will be 75 years old.

On this the 240th birthday of America, we thought it might be a good idea to share a few of the most encouraging thoughts authored by the four men who are enshrined on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington

The father of our country shared these insightful comments about how to live a productive life:Bust of George Washington in the U.S. Capitol.

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

It is better to be alone than in bad company.

Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind, than on the externals in the world.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.

Thomas Jefferson

The author of our Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States offered these priceless words of advice:

Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.

Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.

Never spend your money before you have it.

Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.

Teddy Roosevelt

The first President to win a Nobel Peace Prize offered these pearls of wisdom:
TR 2

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Abraham Lincoln

Many historians believe that Abraham Lincoln was our greatest President. During his lifetime, he was one of the most vilified men to ever hold the highest office in the land. Nevertheless, he soldiered on because he was determined to save our union and emancipate the slaves. These are a few of his most insightful thoughts about criticism:A Lincoln_2

Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion.

I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness, not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how — the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

Happy Birthday America

(Archival pictures are part of the Library of Congress collection.)

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