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I worked within two or three blocks of the National Mall for over 14 years and I share your affection for it. I seem to remember always finding it full of children, joggers and families, people playing softball or frisbee after work. And huge crowds for the Independence Day fireworks — one of life's great thrills, watching the fireworks boom over the Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial.

But frankly I'm not too sure it needs a half a billion dollars worth of upgrades.

I'll be in DC next week. If they have a location at the mall taking donations I'll drop in a few bucks.

I've visited the mall a few times and it never fails to leave me in awe. I agree with NewMexiken in that I don't know that it needs that much in upgrades, but it's definitely worth the few bucks I can chip in.

Beautiful post, Tom. The National Mall is one of my favorite places in DC, along with the Library of Congress and Mount Vernon (not technically in DC, but close enough).

One time when I went, I went with a friend who's in the military. There were also people protesting against our involvement in Iraq. He commented how he (and everyone else in the military) put his life on the line so that they could enjoy their freedom of speech. An interesting juxtaposition.

The National Mall deserves whatever we can give it.

I understand and respect the commitment that every member of the military makes when they swear in. Each one knows that they may be called on to give their life in the service of their country. That said, wars are started by politicians who give the marching orders and in the last 40 years there have been "good" wars and "bad" wars but not one of them has been about defending the rights of Americans. This is not unpatriotic nor making light of what each soldier/sailor/airman is willing to sacrifice for the United States. It is an accurate assessment our military involvements since World War II precipitated by both Democratic and Republican Administrations. We have gone to war to fight the spread of Communism, to ensure cheap bananas, to oust both dictators and duly elected Presidents. We have fought for strategic advantage, economic advantage and geo-political goals but we haven't fought for the Constitution.

re-reading my comment I realize I should have enlisted in a keyboarding class. Sorry for the typos.

Well put Wally.

With apologies for linking to my own stuff, I posted photos last year that I took from the top of the Washington Monument. They're not great — hazy day, dirty windows — but they're not awful either and they do give you a sense of the Mall unlike any other. The view from the top.

In my opinion the one thing the National Mall does not need is any more buildings or a "visitor center." It's the open space that enables the park-like setting among the monuments and urban hubbub. $500 million is a lot of sod and shrubs.

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