Sunday, November 13, 2016

Summer 2016 Road Trip: Stage 8

South Dakota Monuments: Crazy Horse 
Mount Rushmore

When we lived in Europe, our family put a lot of time and effort into visiting as many places as possible. Ron and I took the kids to many beautiful places; and, they all had numerous travel opportunities through the DODDS school system.  And yet, when we were stateside, most of our vacation time was spent visiting family, going to amusement parks, or taking the kids on a camping trip. I guess I thought the stateside opportunities would always be there... some day... in the future.  Well, I'm not getting any younger and my "somedays" are quickly dwindling. Visiting Mount Rushmore was always one thing I wanted to do "someday" but never got around to it. It's actually pretty sad that hearing about the National Parks Pass for Fourth Graders was the motivation to finally mark it off my to do list.  What's really crazy is that the parks pass wasn't even accepted at Mount Rushmore! We sure were glad we didn't go to the effort of getting the pass and only going to Mount. Rushmore!
On our second day in South Dakota, we visited the two monuments; Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore.  What a contrast! One is totally funded through private contributions and the other through public funds.  One is dedicated to the struggles of Native Americans, and the other is dedicated to the memory of those who helped forge this nation. Visiting both places on the same day creates conflicting emotions because you recognize the mistakes our nation has made while celebrating our accomplishments.
Crazy Horse Monument is not only a tribute to the Native American, but to family commitment and dedication. The family of Korczak Ziolkowski has dedicated generations to the project, exemplifying what families with a shared vision can accomplish. I doubt the monument will be completed in my lifetime; but, I hope that my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will see it completed.
The visitor's center has a very informative video that explains the vision and progress of the monument. There is also an opportunity to stroll through the studio and purchase items from a gift shop. Many of the facilities are run by members of the family or Native American students that participate in the education programs sponsored by the foundation. It is indeed an enlightening experience.
A view of the monument

One of many sculptures housed on the grounds.

Model of a sweat lodge found in the visitors center.
Sophie was getting a close up view.

I loved how the museum had a model aligned with the
monument. If you stood in the right spot, you could
visualize what the complete project would look like.

Another model of what the complete monument will look like.

After visiting Crazy Horse Monument, we went over to Mount Rushmore. It is VERY tourist driven. Once again, quite a contrast. I have to say that the program in the evening was very respectful of the American Armed forces. However, I think it was a more than a little cheesy. Probably because being part of a multi-generational military family give me the insight of knowing that most soldiers don't serve for the recognition. But, I still believe it is a visit to this place should be on every American's bucket list.
Maggie found the name of the Crazy Horse Monument sculptor on the
plaque honoring those who worked on Mt. Rushmore.

A bust of the man credited for Mount Rushmore

Avenue of flags...

Penny Press Time!!

I know there is a reason why these four president were chosen to be immortalized on the side of the Black Hills; but, for the life of me I can't remember why. Look it up if you want to know.

Abraham Lincoln

George Washington

Theodore Roosevelt

Thomas Jefferson
There are several walking paths on the ground. The ones we took were well maintained, not at all crowded, and had small rest areas along them with shaded benches facing some amazing views.

Seth, Maggie, Leslie, and Sophie

Sitting through the evening program: Seth, Scott, Maggie, Leslie, and Sophie

One last shot of the mountain.

All in all, I think we are all glad we made the trek and had the opportunity to see this amazing blend of engineering and art. I think one of the things we really enjoy about our stay here was the occasional and unexpected glimpse of the monuments when we were doing some sight seeing. Pretty neat experience!

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