Maryland’s Greenbelt Park, located in Prince George’s County, is under consideration as a potential site for President Donald Trump’s proposed “National Garden of American Heroes,” according to Greenbelt’s mayor.
In early July, Trump said the federal government would seek the creation of a park filled with statues honoring U.S. historical figures in response to the toppling of Confederate-linked memorials across the country.
Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd said he was told that the U.S. Interior Department had reached out to Prince George’s County to say the 1,176-acre park, which is managed by the National Park Service, is one of the sites being considered for the project.
Byrd is seeking input from Greenbelt residents on the matter, but suggested popular opinion in the city is against it.
“The proposal is problematic on a number of fronts,” Byrd told WTOP. “I am concerned about the message that the president seems to be trying to send in terms of what American history is and what American history isn’t — what qualifies as worthy of recognition and what does not?”
Trump released a list of 31 names he said must be memorialized there, ranging from Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, to famous Black Americans like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
Pioneers of exploration like the Wright Brothers and Christa McAuliffe also made the list, as did conservative icons like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the Rev. Billy Graham.
But Mayor Byrd said the preliminary list leaves much to be desired in terms of inclusivity.
“There’s an over-homage being paid to certain conservative figures at the expense of not honoring certain liberal figures,” Byrd said. “I’m concerned about the focus on honoring folks like Ronald Reagan and Antonin Scalia, while notably Thurgood Marshall, who is a Marylander, is left out.”
Byrd believes the coronavirus pandemic, along with tension in much of the country after the death of George Floyd, are more pressing matters.
“I think the federal government right now has a number of other priorities it should be focusing on,” Byrd said. “I think that this is frankly a waste of time, and it’s a political 2020 election ploy to try to make a commentary about what’s been going on around some of these controversial statues.”
“It will not end up in Greenbelt as long as I’m mayor.”
WTOP has reached out to the Interior Department for comment.