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The Shrine of Democracy

By Linda Tancs

President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to Mount Rushmore as America’s “shrine of democracy.” Created by famed sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his army of workers, the granite portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln represent the birth, growth, development and preservation of the country. Borglum created an opening called the Hall of Records behind the heads that was intended to house important information on the significance of these four presidents in American history. The chamber was left incomplete at the time of the sculptor’s death but was finished over 50 years later. The Hall of Records houses both original texts and copies of important American documents. Due to its precarious location, public access to the vault is closed, forever to remain a mysterious part of this national treasure. The mountain housing this monumental carving is named for Charles E. Rushmore, a New York City attorney who visited the area in 1885. The park is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota near Keystone and draws millions of visitors annually.

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