Presidential Connections to National Mall and Memorial Parks
After the first Congress passed the Residence Act of 1790, President George Washington selected the exact site for the new republic’s seat of government along the bank of the Potomac River. Secretary of State (and future president) Thomas Jefferson offered his assistance to President Washington's city planner Peter L'Enfant and eventually an impressive federal city emerged.
The resulting federal parkland, therefore, is the oldest such land managed by the National Park Service. In its administration of this parkland, National Mall and Memorial Parks shares the privilege with other units of the Greater Washington National Parks system.
National Mall and Memorial Parks proudly administers many sites dedicated to presidential leadership and historic events affected by presidential action. The park invites you to visit these sites as well as a host of other sites possessing impressive and historic presidential connections.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks presidential sites have become iconic images of the United States of America and the park invites everyone to visit them and be a part of American history.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial - Dedicated by Bill Clinton in 1997, the memorial remained a popular venue for special events throughout the remainder of the Clinton administration. To mark the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the early part of the 21st century, a commemorative stone was added during a ceremony attended by former President George H.W. Bush.
- Lincoln Memorial - Warren G. Harding accepted the memorial on behalf of the American people on May 30, 1922, along with Vice President Calvin Coolidge and former president William Howard Taft. The site has more recently served as the backdrop for several pre-inaugural ceremonies, including those for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial - Franklin D. Roosevelt attended groundbreaking in 1938, the laying of the cornerstone the following year, and the April 13, 1943 dedication ceremonies for this tribute to the third president of the United States. Numerous American Presidents have visited this site during their presidencies, including, most recently, Barack Obama in 2009.
- Washington Monument - President James K. Polk attended the cornerstone-laying ceremony on July 4, 1848 along with future president Abraham Lincoln, then a congressman from Illinois. Chester A. Arthur dedicated the monument on February 21, 1885. Woodrow Wilson, Harry S Truman, and Barack Obama are among the president who have visited the Washington Monument during their presidencies.
Veterans, Military, and National Service Memorials
The National Mall and Memorial Parks manages several military and veterans related sites that have presidential connections; among the many sites are,
- American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial - On October 5, 2014, Barack Obama spoke at the dedication of the memorial, the first national memorial dedicated solely to disabled veterans, paying tribute to the hidden and visible disabilities from all conflicts and all branches of service.
- District of Columbia World War Memorial - Herbert Hoover accepted this local World War I memorial on behalf of a grateful nation on Armistice Day, November 11, 1931.
- George Washington Victory Memorial Building - Warren G. Harding presided over the cornerstone laying ceremony of this World War I Memorial in November 1921. This memorial never materialized but many of its salvaged materials later were incorporated into the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of the George Washington University. The building foundation site along the National Mall now is occupied by the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.
- Korean War Veterans Memorial - George H.W. Bush broke ground for this memorial on Flag Day, June 14, 1992; Bill Clinton participated in the formal memorial dedication on July 27, 1995.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Jimmy Carter signed the Congressional authorization for this memorial in 1980. Following the memorial's 1982 dedication, several presidents have visited the site. Ronald Reagan spoke at the dedication of the Three Servicemen statue in 1984, and again on Veterans Day in 1988. George H.W. Bush visited during his presidency in 1990, and again after leaving office to participate in the reading of names during the annual Veterans Day commemoration. Early in his presidency, George W. Bush visited the memorial without fanfare and placed a Presidential Challenge Coin at The Wall. Barck Obama delivered the Memorial Day address at the memorial in 2012.
- World War II Memorial - Bill Clinton participated in a ceremonial ground-breaking for this memorial in November 2000. The completed memorial received an official dedication on May 29, 2004 during a ceremony attended by George W. Bush and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.