WASHINGTON - Is the National Mall a place to admire monuments or a place to learn about the people they honor?
Janice View, a native Washingtonian and an educator, testified at a Congressional subcommittee hearing on the future of the Mall.
"It is not enough to drive 8th graders 1,000 miles to stand at the base of a monument and say, 'Kids, this is important because it is here," she says.
She says she'd like to see more of the true history taught there, not just idealized versions. But Justin Shubow with the National Civic Art Society says they don't want too much disagreement in the memorials.
"We want them to say a few simple things, that we should honor them and reflect on what they did for us," Shubow says. "What we don't want to see is the so-called brown bag memorial, where every visitor brings whatever interpretation they want to it."
The hearing also addressed the now-crowded National Mall's future. The National Capital Planning Commission's Preston Bryant says there are dozens of possible locations in all quadrants of the city.
"New cultural projects in these areas can serve as anchors that spark investment, add high-quality public spaces and buildings, and provide destinations that introduce visitors to new parts of the city," Bryant says.
View says adding context with informed teachers on site is the best way to use the memorials we already have.
"A person or event worthy of representation is also worthy of interpretation that brings the stones alive," she says.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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