Thursday, July 19, 2007

Editorial -- The National Mall and Memorials Should be a World Heritage Site

The National Mall, Independence Day!

The National Mall & Memorial Parks, where America and the World come to reflect, honor and celebrate, presents the symbols of our democratic evolution spread over 1,000 acres in the heart of our Nation’s Capitol. It has been designated a National Park, and is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

What better symbol to mark the reentry of the United States to UNESCO than to nominate the National Mall as a World Heritage Site. The Mall perfectly symbolizes the idea of a democratic nation which is the principle contribution of our nation to the world's cultural heritage.


John Daly said...

Emily Vargas-Baron asked me to look up the current list of 830 World Heritage sites, and see whether there were comparable sites in other countries. Here are some:

Historic Center of Vienna, Austria

La Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium

Brasilia, Brazil

Paris, Banks of the Seine, France

Historic Center of the City of Mexico

Historic Center of Lima in Peru

Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow, Russian Federation

Historic Areas of Istanbul, Turkey

Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church, London, United Kingdom

Frank Method said...

First reactions: many of the monuments are war memorials. The WWII memorial is particularly egregious – it treats the war as starting in 1941 and one would not know from the memorial who the allies were or what the war was all about. Same with the Korean war memorial, the only conflict which was UN-sanctioned. Also, there still are some who think the World Heritage designations of sites in the US are plots to compromise our sovereignty.

John Daly said...

Emily Vargas-Baron asked me to post the following:

"I strongly support your suggestion. Our Mall is beautiful and historic. Open and free access to our nation's cultural treasures always astounds visitors from other countries who are charged entry fees to their national museums. In light of the number of historic centers of other beautiful capital cities currently listed as World Heritage Sites, I think this
nomination would be welcomed."

John Daly said...

Ray Wanner wrote me, noting:

"The National Park Service is in the process of drawing up a new USG 'tentative list' of potential U.S. World Heritage sites. It does so through a formal interagency process of vetting proposals for inscription obtained through the Federal Register and other sources. Steve Morris, head of the NPS international office, is in charge. With this noted, the USG committed itself not to list any sites for inscription during its current period on the WHC which has 2 1/2 years to run."

John Daly said...

I have received several emails objecting to this proposal, suggesting it would be too politically controversial.