In celebration of the National Mall's first major renovation in over 40 years , The Washington Post Magazine asked capital visitors why the Mall is important to them. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

We asked recent visitors to the Mall to videotape their feelings about the nation’s front yard on something called StoryKiosk. Brad Larson Media developed StoryKiosk to allow museum visitors to record their thoughts about exhibits to deepen the experience. We found it did that for the Mall, too. Here, you’ll find two videos using some of those recordings, and transcripts of others. We think you’ll be touched by the visitors’ words.

— Lynn Medford, editor, Washington Post Magazine

In celebration of the National Mall's first major renovation in over 40 years , The Washington Post asked capital visitors why the Mall is important to them. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)


(Bradlarson.com/From New Zealand)

(Bradlarson.com/From Philadelphia)

New Zealand: “I watched the film ‘Selma’ about three or four months ago. I was so taken away. I hadn’t heard about Luther King’s march. And I sent my family — my daughter, my son-in-law and my two granddaughters — to the movies, too. And when given a chance to come to America, I came and now am with my brother in Baltimore. ... I said I would like to go visit [MLK] because the film had really touched me.”

Philadelphia: Rajun: “We are from city of brotherly love, Philadelphia.” Johnny: “My favorite part was the MLK Memorial. Because of him we have the rights to do whatever we want.” Rajun: “Washington united the east and west in the United States. We are one country, the great nation.”


(Bradlarson.com/From Cleveland)

(Bradlarson.com/From Washington area)

Cleveland: “I’m here for the July Fourth weekend. Every trip to Washington has always included the Mall. It has great meaning. I was here in ’87 for the march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights. And I think it’s pretty significant that I’m here today because of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage and marriage equality.”

Washington area: “I’m not really good with being stressed out for something that happened 50 years ago [Vietnam War]. I made it to the three soldiers, took me 15 years to get that close to the Wall. It’s one of the scariest places in Washington for me because of the conflict that I had to go through.”


(Bradlarson.com/From the Washington area)

(Unknown origin)

Washington area: “The National Mall is a really important space to me because it’s in the heart of our nation’s capital, surrounded by all of the landmarks of democracy. It’s where Americans can come and truly express themselves. In many ways it’s where the true American democracy takes place. For example, people have come out here and expressed their culture. People have come out here and expressed their beliefs. Whether you agree with their beliefs or appreciate their culture or not, it’s a place where people can have their voices heard and can speak for themselves to the world.”

Unknown: Woman in hat: “We are here from a company called Global Recordings Network, and we are handing out CDs in over 6,000 languages. We are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.” No hat: “For us being on the Mall is a huge, huge honor ... because we get to meet thousands of people with different backgrounds, cultures, languages. And it gives us a chance to hand out a CD for them in their tongue and their dialect. And the Mall here represents who we are as citizens of the United States, our freedom, and what the men and women of this country have done for us, and gives us an opportunity to give back.”


(Bradlarson.com/From Miami)

(From Manassas)

Miami: “It, for me, is the most patriotic place in the United States. I love our nation. I love what our nation stands for. And this spot now means the world to me — I am at the World War II Memorial. I had two uncles that served in the Army during World War II, and my brother served in Vietnam.”

Manassas: “A few years ago I came to the Mall, on the Metro as usual, for a women’s march against violence. There were many men there, as well. ... And on the way home, instead of the usual Metro experience where everybody sits and reads or looks at their little magazines, everybody was talking to each other, everybody was sharing stories. And that’s what I thought was special. I’ve come to other events here, such as the one about climate change. There are many, many things that happen on the Mall that are important and special.”


(Bradlarson.com/From Rockville)

Rockville: “I am on the Mall today because I wanted to personally participate in looking at the Peruvian festival. I just recently celebrated my 80th birthday, and I love to become more informed of other cultures. Because I live nearby, as my children grew up we always found interesting things to do on the Mall. So rather than look at my usual TV this morning, I said, ‘Let me go out and do something special.’ This has been a very interesting day. I’ve seen a lot of interesting things. Learning how to take photos with my cellphone.”

Roanoke: “Quite some time ago, you may remember that at this Mall and location in Washington we had the Poor People’s March. This was one of the marches that Martin Luther King gathered to pay attention and show some interest in trying to relieve the issues of the poor. We came that day, and everything was wonderful except for one thing: It rained and it rained and it rained. ... However, everyone enjoyed themselves. And that was one of my great memories of coming to the Washington Mall. Glad to be a part of it.”

E-mail us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.

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