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Contact: Amy Bracewell, 605-574-3114
(Keystone, SD) – On July 3, an emotionally moving ceremony to three of the World War II Navajo Code Talkers and a fireworks display rounded out a full day of patriotic programming at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Visitors to the memorial celebrated Independence Day with patriotic tributes, educational programs, and musical celebrations of American heritage.
Heavy fog delayed the start of the fireworks program by fourteen minutes. As the program progressed, the fog was lit by multi-colored bursts and the sound of the exploding shells shook the crowd. Roars of approval could be heard when fireworks became visible through the fog.
Seating was at a premium at the memorial as visitors arrived early in the day to secure a place to watch the fireworks. Theater programs, ranger studio talks, American Indian heritage demonstrations, and Junior Ranger activities were scheduled throughout the day and provided a diversity of activities for visitors to experience. New National Park Service Junior Rangers were sworn in at special ceremonies in the amphitheater and were charged with taking care of America’s treasured national parks into the future.
The evening’s patriotic tribute to three World War II Navajo Code Talkers was an emotional high point to the event. A B-1 Bomber from Ellsworth Air Force Base flew over the crowd before the veterans were presented with commemorative American flags. The ceremony echoed the larger focus of the day’s celebration to the struggles and victories of independence in America.
“Our country’s rich history of freedom and independence was evident today as Mount Rushmore celebrated America’s cultural heritage and those who are protecting our freedoms,” said Superintendent Gerard Baker. “This event was a success because of the hundreds of hours that volunteers, memorial partners, and National Park Service employees from Mount Rushmore and other national parks spent making it possible. I would like to thank everyone who played a role in making this a safe and memorable celebration.”
The Independence Day celebration continues on July 4 with music in the amphitheater beginning at 7:30 pm leading up to the regularly scheduled Evening Program and sculpture illumination beginning at 9:00 pm. Please see www.nps.gov/moru for the full program schedule.