Nearly 400 men and women worked to build the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a giant, stone carving featuring the facial likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.
Out of the group of call boys, carvers, drillers, blacksmiths, and housekeepers that brought the giant carving to life between the years of 1927 and 1941, only one remains alive to this day – Nick Clifford.
In fact, he’s been the only one alive for the past 12 years, but as he’s turning 98, Clifford found himself reminiscing more than normal, he told CNN.
“They’re all gone now. I’m the last one so I’m happy that my health is good, and I plan on living to quite a while yet.”
Friends and family gathered from all over the country to help him celebrate the big day, and many of them took a moment to muse on their friendships with Clifford, as well as what he means to American history.
“I’ve been in love with Mount Rushmore since I came here when I was six,” friend Murita Marty said. “So the idea that I got to meet someone who created this mountain, to me, was just like I met a rockstar.”
Clifford and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 45 years. She couldn’t be prouder of everything her husband will be leaving behind when he goes.
“He’s been a wonderful man. He’s very kind and generous, and somewhat shy. You wouldn’t know that since he’s in the public, but he enjoys what he’s doing a lot.”
If you haven’t traveled to Mount Rushmore, I have to say, I did find it worth the trip. Not only for the presidential sculpture itself – which is supposed to represent the birth, growth, development, and preservation of the United States – but for all of the beauty and history of the surrounding area.