August 30th, 1936 will forever be remembered as one of the most memorable days in South Dakota's history. On that day, our nation's 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a pit stop at Mount Rushmore while touring the Dust Bowl ravaged region of the U.S. What he had to say upon viewing the memorial will never be forgotten.

Roosevelt (FDR) was about to be elected to his second presidential term. The country was in the middle of the Great Depression and would soon be thrown into the worst armed conflict the world has ever endured, WWII. The Dust Bowl was wreaking havoc on the Great Plains states, including South Dakota. But there was a glimmer of optimism in the state, as Mount Rushmore was nearing completion.

FDR made a short, yet profound speech during the dedication that has been remembered through the annals of history to this very day. Here's what he said.

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Credit: SDPB via YouTube/Canva
Credit: SDPB via YouTube/Canva

This is the second dedication. There will be others by other presidents in other years. When we get through, there will be something for the American people that will last through not just generations but for thousands and thousands of years, and I think that we can perhaps meditate a little on those Americans ten thousand years from now when the weathering on the face of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln shall have proceeded to perhaps a depth of a tenth of an inch – meditate and wonder what our descendants, and I think they will still be here, will think about us. Let us hope that at least they will give us the benefit of the doubt – that they will believe we have honestly striven every day and generation to preserve for our descendants a decent land to live in and a decent form of government to operate under.

-FDR at Mount Rushmore/National Parks Service Website

FDR was in attendance for the unveiling of the Thomas Jefferson mold at the monument. Neither Abraham Lincoln nor Theodore Roosevelt's (FDR's 5th cousin) heads were completed at that time but FDR was still in awe upon viewing George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's heads carved into the rock.

After 14 long years of work, Mount Rushmore was officially completed on October 31st, 1941, just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII. FDR would never again travel to the completed memorial, as he died in office in 1945.

To read the full transcript of what FDR had to say while in attendance, check out the article from the National Parks Service. You can also watch the president's speech in the clip below, courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

Story Sources: National Parks Service Mount Rushmore Website

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