The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Tonight I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  Despite heavy skies and muggy air I was determined to see this Memorial before the crowds descend this weekend.  The rain held and I trudged around downtown DC, skirting the blocked off areas around the White House and passing by many other iconic national monuments on my way to the newest one.  This weekend the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial would have been officially dedicated, 48 years after The Reverend Dr. King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, which was delivered at the March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  (The official dedication originally scheduled for August 28, 2011 has been postponed because of Hurricane Irene).  The Memorial overlooks the Tidal Basin and the Jefferson Memorial, and stands not far from the Lincoln Memorial…a fitting place.  It is the only national memorial that is not a U.S. President or an honor to fallen soldiers or wars.  

I would have loved to hear him speak in person.

The Memorial was conceived by Dr. King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and almost didn’t happen because of funding issues.  It’s been a long time coming but now it is done and it is beautiful.  Exquisite.  One enters the Memorial through the Mountain of Despair (I got chills walking through the Mountain), and into a quiet area that is partially surrounded by 2 walls.  As you enter there is third large stone piece – the Stone of Hope.   The names of these sculptures come from the “I Have A Dream Speech” (This is our hope…this is our faith that I go back to the South with.  With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope…). On the 2 walls that flank the Mountain of Despair are inscriptions from famous and important speeches.  According to the pamphlet handing out by park rangers, the “quotations chosen for the inscription walls, which frame the Mountain of Despair and the Stone of Hope, stress four primary messages of Dr. King: justice, democracy, hope, and love.”  But the most magnificent and imposing part of this Memorial is the sculpture of Dr. King on the Stone of Hope.  He stands resolute, strong, bold looking out over the Tidal Basin and toward the Jefferson Memorial. The statue actually reminds me of the statue of Bob Marley that is near the National Stadium in Jamaica; there, Mr. Marley is captured as growing from the roots of a tree.  And as with Mr. Marley, Dr. King’s words ring true and are as pertinent now as when they were originally spoken.

Below are some of the pictures that I took…I hope that they capture for you the beauty and inspiration that this Memorial embodies.  I’m going back in the daytime when there are less people and better light for picture-taking.  Of course, if you’re in DC then this is a must see part of your trip.

The Mountain of Despair - entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The Mountain of Despair - entrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Chills, I tell you. A definite tingle.

One side of the Stone of Hope.

The other side of the Stone of Hope.

One of the inscription walls.

This is inscribed at the ends of each inscription wall.

The inscriptions, and then…

Can you imagine what this lady must feel like? Her children took her picture.

The other inscription wall.

I have no words...

4 Responses to “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial”
  1. Ms. Nikks says:

    To me he is definitely a fallen soldier, he was fighting for something incredible and gave his life for his people and a country they built.

    I feel a bit of sadness because he isn’t here to see it nor is his wife, but I feel incredibly proud and even more grateful for the sacrifice. I have a feeling walking through and by this monument would make me cry. I have a strong appreciation and genuine love for those who died for our betterment.

  2. Your final note is pitch perfect – as I was scrolling through the pictures I was thinking that the images are so moving that words would only detract.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog, Peter. If you find the images so stirring then I hope that you’ll be able to visit the Memorial in person. I found the visit a very moving yet peaceful experience.

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