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Mending Historical Treasures

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s three-day tour through the Northeast to generate enthusiasm and funds to restore nearly a dozen neglected historical sites is vintage first-lady fare. But the garden-club atmosphere that surrounded her and her fashionable broad-brimmed hat should not detract from the value of this effort.

Clinton kicked off her campaign Monday in Washington at the National Museum of American History, where she applauded a $10-million corporate contribution to help restore the rapidly deteriorating Star Spangled Banner, the very flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became the lyrics of America’s national anthem.

Clinton’s tour also includes stops at Thomas Edison’s factory in West Orange, N.J., and Harriet Tubman’s house in Auburn, N.Y. The swing ends Thursday in Seneca Falls, N.Y., with a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first American women’s rights convention.

But even as the first lady underscores the need for restoration of these sites and lauds public-private partnerships that will help do that, many of the nation’s less-heralded historical places and objects continue to crumble.

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During her years in the White House, Lady Bird Johnson campaigned for highway beautification. Jacqueline Kennedy took on the renovation and preservation of the then-deteriorating White House. We are all the richer for their efforts--and for Hillary Clinton’s focus on the markers of our national history.


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