Entries in Laura Bush (3)


National Mall to Get $700 Million Makeover with Help of Laura Bush

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The expansive, green backbone of America’s capital city is about to get a major facelift.

Stretching from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is currently a giant swath of grass with limited event space, no restaurants, few restrooms and minimal seating space.

But after decades of neglect, the Trust for the National Mall announced Thursday the three design contest winners tasked with turning “America’s backyard” into, as former first lady Laura Bush said, a “beautiful gathering place” and “vibrant legacy for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.”

“After so many decades, we need to do more than sprinkle some seed or put down some new sod,” Bush said Thursday at the National Mall Benefit Luncheon. “Our capital and our country are worth us maintaining this beautiful gathering place and making it a place that will educate and unite Americans through the 21st century and beyond.”

The multi-million-dollar makeover is broken up into three areas: Union Square, which includes the reflecting pool immediately in front of the Capitol building; Constitution Gardens, the little-visited park space and pond just north of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool; and Sylvan Theater, the grassy knoll surrounding the Washington Monument.

What is now just grass, trees and lampposts nestled around America’s most iconic monuments is slated to soon include an amphitheater, terraced seating areas, gardens, restaurants, an ice skating rink and some serious lighting upgrades. In some areas, the entire topography of the landscape will be re-engineered to decrease traffic noise and increase sustainability and efficiency.

But don’t postpone your Washington vacation just yet to see these improvements in action. The first groundbreaking is not set to begin until 2014 and the earliest ribbon-cutting ceremony is still four years away.

While the Trust for the National Mall’s luncheons have raised about $7 million over the past five years, the group is still hundreds of millions of dollars away from raising the amount necessary for the planned projects.

Half of the $700 million project, which includes renovations to nearly every part of the 700-acre mall, will be funded by taxpayers while the remaining $350 million will come from private donations.

That’s where the former first lady comes in. As the honorary chairwoman of the Trust for the National Mall, Bush is tasked with overseeing private-sector fundraising for the renovations, which she dubbed “thoughtful” and “innovative.”

At Thursday’s benefit luncheon, where 1,200 donors spent $500 per plate to support the project and hear the first lady’s speech, Bush said some of her “fondest memories” of living in Washington, D.C., involved the “grand avenue” of the National Mall.

“One of our favorite things to do when we had friends from Texas visit was to take a picnic out on the lawn,” Bush said from beneath a royal-wedding-style silver hat inside a lavishly decorated tent temporarily constructed near the Washington Monument for the garden-party-style event.

Bush said as first lady she would sometimes sneak out of the White House in a baseball cap and sunglasses to walk along the mall’s gravel paths and try to blend in with the tourists and joggers.

“In over 200 years, the National Mall has become a unique national treasure...where history is remembered and where history is made,” Bush said, “and over the last few decades, it has become a place where history is preserved.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Car Crashes onto President Bush's Lawn in Texas

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A man crashed his car through the gates outside former President George W. Bush's home Wednesday night near Dallas, Texas.

Investigators say the man drove onto the former president's lawn, sending the secret service and police scrambling.  Bush and his wife Laura were home at the time of the incident.  They were not injured and their home was not damaged.

The man's car was damaged and towed from the scene hours later.  The man involved in this incident was visiting a friend.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Laura Bush Lends Support to Bullied Gay Teens

Photo Courtesy - Archie Carpenter/Getty Images(LONG BEACH, Calif.) -- Former first lady Laura Bush, who came out in support of gay marriage and abortion after she vacated the White House, split again with some social conservatives to back anti-bullying measures intended to protect gay teens.

"Bullying of every kind, certainly gay teens, but any children is really terrible," Bush said in an interview Tuesday for the Yahoo Newsmakers series at the Women's Conference 2010 in California.

"We've read cases of children on the Internet where kids are committing suicide. It's really terrible. As adults, we have to be the ones who do something about it," Bush said in reference to a spate of recent suicides by gay teens, including Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after his roommate surreptitiously broadcast a private sexual encounter on the Internet.

Bush said she was proud of openly gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, who was one of the first public officials to share a story of being bullied as a teenager and tell young people "it will get better."

Since then, celebrities and politicians, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, have videotaped messages of hope directed at gay teens, as part of an online campaign called It Gets Better.

In May, more than a year after leaving the White House with President George W. Bush, the first lady admitted publicly that she and her husband "disagree" on many social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage.

Despite her newfound willingness to diverge from her husband, Bush was careful with her words when talking about Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin," Bush said in response to a question about how the one-time GOP vice presidential candidate has reshaped the way women run for office. "That's her style. It's obviously been effective. There are a lot of people who watch her and want her support."

Bush said she did not know whether Palin, who has recently visited Iowa and publicly endorsed a slate of candidates from across the country, would run for president in 2012.

"[Palin's] out there," Bush said. "She's speaking everywhere, but I don't know if that's because she wants to run. I have no idea."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio