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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Samuel Pfister.

Crowds decked out in American flag apparel set up on the National Mall as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday for the evening’s free Concert for Valor, which drew an estimated 800,000 people to salute U.S. veterans.

The crowd took over the National Mall, from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument, awaiting an all-star lineup of performers and celebrities from Metallica to Carrie Underwood and even “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston.

Jumbotrons lined the Mall for viewers too far from the stage – those who didn’t beat the early morning rush were stationed nearly a mile away from the action.

The Veterans Day show kicked off at 7 p.m. with Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of the National Anthem, followed by a cover version of David Guetta’s “Titanium,” which Hudson performed as a duet with pop singer Jessie J.

Other performances included a rock and roll set by David Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Country/folk group the Zac Brown Band was joined by rock icon Bruce Springsteen to cover Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit “Fortunate Son.”

When Metallica took the stage to play a charged version of “Enter Sandman,” Gulf War veteran Harrison Brown recalled listening to the band while serving in the war.

“I listened to Metallica when I was fighting in Iraq. That’s what got me through the day,” he said. “Now instead of me cheering on at a Metallica concert, Jimmy Hetfield was here cheering me on.”

The Black Keys took the stage to perform tracks like “Fever” and “Lonely Boy.” Lead vocalist Dan Auerbach danced around stage, livening the crowd with his masterful guitar solos.

Between pop hits, Springsteen returned to play acoustic tracks, including a delta-blues, slide-guitar style performance of “Born in the U.S.A.”

The night’s performances were capped off with crowd favorites Rihanna and Eminem, who performed duets like “Monster.” The final song of the night was Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

Each artist paid tribute to America’s veterans, such as Grohl, who said, “We’ve got a lot of heroes here tonight,” before playing an acoustic version of the Foo Fighter’s “My Hero.”

Between each act, celebrities including Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey presented short videos that offered a look into the lives of veterans like David Oclander, a retired Army veteran who now serves as a teacher and said he’s using his military experience to help students become leaders.

Powerful performances by the nation’s music stars dominated the night, but a sense of patriotism was abuzz, as the crowds dispersed singing the National Anthem.

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Video by Hatchet videographer Deepa Shivaram and multimedia editor Diana Marinaccio.

Kappa Sigma held its third annual Shave Away Cancer event Saturday on the National Mall in conjunction with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Wahl Clippers.

The event raised more than $30,000 for childhood cancer research after over 100 students shaved their heads for the cause. The fraternity hopes to match that contribution with another $30,000 online this week.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014 8:24 p.m.

Weekend Commencement events and ceremonies

Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

Commencement week is packed with events for graduates, families and faculty. The University has compiled them all, but if you don’t want to scroll through the schedule, here’s a condensed list of some of the largest celebrations and ceremonies.

FRIDAY, May 16

8:30 a.m. - Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Master’s and Doctoral Programs Celebration in the Smith Center, 600 22nd St. NW. Tickets are required. The event features student speaker Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, an American Studies major, and faculty speaker David Karpf, an assistant professor of media and public affairs.

David Shambaugh, the speaker for Photo courtesy of the Elliot School of International Affairs.

David Shambaugh, the speaker for the Elliot School of International Affairs celebration. Photo courtesy of the Elliot School.

11:30 a.m. - Elliott School of International Affairs Celebration in the Smith Center. Tickets are required. Speakers include David Shambaugh, professor of political science and international affairs, and student speaker Max Sanders.

3:00 p.m. - Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony in Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. This event, honoring students in the top 10 percent of their senior class, is invitation only and tickets are required.

3:30 p.m. - School of Business Undergraduate, Master of Business Administration and Doctoral Celebration in the Smith Center. Tickets are required.

7:30 p.m. - School of Engineering and Applied Science Celebration in the Smith Center. Tickets are required and you should hand in a copy of your graduation survey in order to pick them up from the dean’s office in room 106 of Thompkins Hall.

Irene R. Foster, speaker at the first ceremony for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Photo courtesy of the Department of Economics.

Irene Foster, faculty speaker at the first ceremony for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Photo courtesy of the Department of Economics.

SATURDAY, May 17

12:00 p.m. - Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Degree Programs Celebration No. 1  in
the Smith Center. Tickets will be distributed in Phillips Hall, room 209 on Friday from 12 to 4 p.m. The celebration will include speeches from distinguished scholar and speaker Brandon Aversano, an American Studies major, and assistant professor of economics Irene Foster.

3:30 p.m. – Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Degree Programs Celebration No. 2  in the Smith Center. Tickets will be distributed in Phillips Hall, room 209 on Friday from 12 to 4 p.m. For this second ceremony, the distinguished scholar and speaker is Alexandra Kralick, a biological Anthropology major, and the faculty speaker will be Melani McAlister, associate professor of American Studies and international affairs.

Hatchet File Photo.

José Andrés, the University-wide Commencement speaker. Hatchet File Photo.

SUNDAY, May 18

9:30 a.m. - University-wide Commencement on the National Mall, between 7th and 14th streets. All schools come together on the Mall for University-wide commencement, featuring keynote speaker José Andrés. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Make sure to check the weather: It rained during last year’s ceremony.

2:30 p.m. - Law School Celebration in the Smith Center. Keynote speaker and alumnus Bruce Sewell is Apple’s general counsel and senior vice president of legal and government Affairs.

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Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 6:29 p.m.

The Bionic Man comes to D.C.

National Air and Space Museum, where the bionic man will make an appearance tomorrow. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

National Air and Space Museum, where the bionic man will make an appearance tomorrow. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.


This post was written by Hatchet reporter Maddy Pontz.

You may get a glimpse at humanity’s future tomorrow.

The world’s first entirely bionic man will walk the D.C. streets Friday at 10 a.m.. He’ll walk near the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, putting his implantable synthetic organs and entirely bionic body parts to use for the first time ever.

This scene straight out of a science fiction film will, in fact, be used as a part of a new documentary set to air Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel, delving deeper into the story of this frighteningly human-like robot.

The Incredible Bionic Man (as he is being called) is worth billions of dollars in research.

So, if you happen upon a bionic man while jogging on the Mall tomorrow, don’t fear. It is not the beginning of some sort of robot-driven apocalypse – it just might be the next step in human evolution.

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Thousands gathered on the National Mall on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

Hatchet staff writer Rachel Smilan-Goldstein recounts her experience at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action ceremony Wednesday, which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom.

On a day meant to commemorate a historic moment in the ongoing struggle for equality, one barrier remained unwavering between spectators and the reflecting pool: a white security tent.

Thousands gathered Wednesday at the 17th Street entrance of the National Mall, squeezed between the Washington Monument and World War II Memorial, only to wait for hours before passing through an unsubstantial security checkpoint.

The mass of bodies could not be described as a line, instead resembling a mob as the rain poured down on the muggy late-August morning. The heat was sweltering, and we stood for hours.

Within the crowd, people shouted for medics. An elderly man was helped out of the masses; a young woman knelt above the ground before fainting, vomiting and losing consciousness. At least five other people left for medical attention.

And with no access to water or bathrooms, many people abandoned their spots in the crowd for basic necessities.

Despite the dangers and inconveniences of the security process, many attendees remained in high spirits. As they inched closer to the security tent, they joked loudly about reaching the “Promised Land” on the other side and “crossing the Mason-Dixon line.”

Along the way, guards held true to their promise to confiscate a number of items. One man in the crowd lamented giving up his two metal water bottles and a Swiss army knife. A woman was devastated as guards took her over-sized sign denouncing the death of Trayvon Martin. As she complained, guards told her that she could keep the sign but would have to sacrifice her hours of waiting. With thousands waiting for her to make a decision, she tore off part of the poster and proceeded onto the Mall.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s representative in Congress, called the security check point an “organizational breakdown.” She wrote in a letter to the Secret Service that D.C. Fire and EMS had to attend to more then 100 people, and some were hospitalized.

“As a result of your poor planning and execution, many were unable to attend and participate in the event altogether,” Norton wrote in the letter she sent Thursday to Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. “There is no doubt that the many failures could have been prevented.”

In 1963, there were no metal detectors, no bag searches, no pat downs. Instead, those rallying for civil rights across the country faced threats of police dogs and fire hoses, or worse.

The security feats average citizens had to overcome Wednesday illuminate the changed world in the wake of the events of the 1960s and more recent years. The cumulative impacts of tragedies ranging from the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. to 9/11 to the Boston bombing haven’t changed the “why,” but “how” we march on Washington.

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D.C. has its problems, sure. People like to gripe about the Metro, tourists and the fact that D.C. is not New York. Well, the Washington City Paper brought dozens of journalists and experts together who are eager to solve some of those problems.

It is part of the alternative weekly’s “How to Fix Everything” issue, and here’s a sampling of some of the best solutions that were pitched.


1. Fix D.C. beer

Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

The problem: According to “local freelance beer nerd” Aaron Morrissey, D.C. bars are negligent in cleaning draft lines, tainting new beer batches. Moreover, price disparities across beer vendors are costing consumers big time. Morrissey notes that at one organic market in the Petworth neighborhood, a 32-ounce growler is 31.3 cents an ounce, but a 72-ounce six-pack costs 16.6 cents an ounce.

The fix: “The District could lend a hand in the regulation of such wild pricing differences by extending financial incentives—a growler grant, perhaps?—to local beer-centric businesses like the in-progress DC Growler Station, in the hope that more growler shops will lead to streamlined pricing,” Morrisey wrote.

2. Make the National Mall a territory for an all-out, state-wide food vendor competition

The National Mall. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

The problem: The expansive green of the National Mall is outdated and underutilized, hamstrung by subpar food services, says New Republic editorial director Michael Schaffer.

The fix: Give each state in the country a food kiosk featuring state-based cuisine and line them up across the mall. Let the competition for food dominance commence and encourage national tourism.

“State tourism boards would make sure their kiosks sold the best of native fare. North Carolina would know that the family being introduced to vinegar-based barbecue today might be spending scarce vacation dollars in the Tar Heel State next summer,” Schaffer wrote.

3. Build more Metro lines

Gallery Place-Chinatown metro station. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

The problem: The hike from Union Station to Georgetown can’t easily be conquered without a taxi, and numerous other city hotspots aren’t accessible by metro, either. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority announced in January a tentative plan to expand metro lines, but not until 2040.

The fix: Build metro lines while it’s affordable to do so, extending services to areas like Georgetown, H Street and West End.

“There’s no reason to wait [until 2040]—or, really, to wait at all. Interest rates are low, the system is clogged, the city’s running big surpluses, infrastructure investments will spur economic development, and building now is cheaper and easier than building later,” Aaron Wiener, staff writer at Washington City Paper, wrote.

4. Revamp D.C. teaching requirements

Ward 2 D.C. Council member and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans, an advocate for teaching requirement reforms. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

The problem: The D.C. public school system has long struggled to yield high graduation rates and student academic success. This is due in part to a lack of mandatory teaching positions in D.C., Ward 2 councilmember and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans says.

The fix: “One of the basic things that every school should have is a music teacher, an art teacher, a librarian, and a physical education teacher. And they don’t exist in our schools today, so I’ve actually introduced legislation demanding…that our schools have those four at a minimum, those four instructors,” Evans wrote.

5. Invest in — and expand — Southwest D.C.’s museums

The Hirshhorn Museum in D.C.’s Southwest quadrant. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

The problem: The Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art, the two flagship museums of Southwest D.C., haven’t seen upgrades, driving away potential tourism.

The fix: “The Hirshhorn and the National Gallery are the two museums that would most benefit from expansion. Both have seen their collections grow substantially since they last added significant gallery space…Extending the Hirshhorn and the NGA there would help extend foot traffic and urban energy into a place that needs it,” wrote Tyler Green, writer for the Modern Art Notes blog at Blouin Artinfo.

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There’s a new reason to head to the Mall after dark.

The scaffolding-encased Washington Monument turns into a glowing tower every evening, thanks to 488 lights from the National Park Service.

Hundreds of lights have been wrapped around the marble tower as it undergoes construction. Photo used under the Creative Commons license.

The lights come from a sheer blue fabric wrapped around the 500 tons of scaffolding, and officials said they hope it will draw visitors who have been turned away by the construction. The monument has been closed since it suffered damage from an earthquake in August 2011.

The National Park Service estimated that the monument will reopen next spring.

Not in D.C.? You don’t have to miss the lights. Here’s a live view of the monument via an online EarthCam.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013 12:17 a.m.

Fireworks on the Fourth: Where to go in D.C.

View of the fireworks on the National Mall. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

It’s somewhat ironic to be celebrating Independence Day in a place still fighting against taxation without representation. But what the District lacks in political liberties, it makes up in Fourth of July fireworks.

Here are the best spots to view the show:

The Mall
The crowds aren’t as bad as Inauguration, but if you want room for your lawn chair and picnic blanket, you’d better get there early.

Fireworks are launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and will explode over the Washington Monument, so try to snag a spot between the two. The security check-points on the Mall will open at 10 a.m. and the fireworks  start at 9:15 pm.

U.S. Marine Corps Memorial
Only six blocks from the Rosslyn Metro Station, the Marine Corps Memorial is a convenient and less-crowed alternative to the Mall. It offers scenic views of the Lincoln Memorial with the Capitol in the backdrop, without the densely packed crowds.

If the National Mall isn’t patriotic enough for you, watching the fireworks in the shadow of the Iwo Jima Memorial should do the trick.

Cardozo High School
1200 Clifton St. N.W.

Though it’s two miles from the Mall, many locals consider Cordozo High School to be one of the city’s best spots for fireworks. It sits on top of the one of the only hills in the District, and its rolling green lawn in front of the school is a perfect for place for a blanket to watch the show.

Do-It-Yourself
If you’d rather celebrate the the nation’s founding with at-home pyrotechnics and Roman candles of your choice, check out this list of certified firework vendors.

Normally fireworks (along with large quantities of TNT and fertilizer) are not sold within the District, but the week before the Fourth is an exception.

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Thousands walked or ran on the National Mall to show their support for the fight against breast cancer Saturday in the Susan G. Komen Foundation Race for a Cure. The event was moved to Mother’s Day weekend this year to honor mothers and all women.

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More than 100 runners came out to the Renaissance Hotel Monday evening to take part in a memorial run honoring the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The participants ran 4.09 miles around the National Mall, the same number as the elapsed time on the official race clock as the first explosion occurred.

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