A visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is definitely a must during a vacation in Washington DC.
This is a memorial that you want to make sure that you see during a DC visit.
I recommend visiting the memorial both during the daytime and at night when all of the crowds are gone.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is open 24 hours a day.
MLK was such a catalyst for change in our country. Our daytime visit to the site was a bit more crowded and had energy and excitement about it.
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope”Martin Luther King Jr.
The memorial was dedicated on August 28th, 2011 which was the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King jr.’s march and the “I Have A Dream” speech.
I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousnessMartin Luther King Jr.
There were people everywhere taking pictures in front of the monument. It was really interesting to observe how people reacted to the monument differently.
Quotes from the MLK Memorial
The memorial also features a wall that chronicles several quotes by MLK jr. during critical times in the country.
It is not enough to say, “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.Martin Luther King Jr.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. this is why right, temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.Martin Luther King Jr.
I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.Martin Luther King Jr.
Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.Martin Luther King Jr.
If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation, and this means we must develop a world perspective.Martin Luther King Jr.
I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.Martin Luther King Jr.
We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.Martin Luther King Jr.
“We are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs “down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”Martin Luther King Jr.
True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.Martin Luther King Jr.
Make a career of humanity, commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal right. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.Martin Luther King Jr.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Night
Our evening visit to the memorial felt a bit more reverent. There were WAY less people there at night. We would see an occasional jogger or tourist pass by, but by in large the lack of a crowd was very enjoyable.
I would suggest making it a point to see as many of the memorials as you can at night. They are so much more dramatic and beautiful that way.
The “drum major” quote on the side of the monument will be removed during the spring of 2013. It was paraphrased from this original quote during a 1968 sermon that was two months before he was assassinated.
The original quote was “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
Critics felt that the paraphrase made MLK sound arrogant. The original sculptor Master Lei Yixin will be making the changes.
The monument has MLK jr. busting through the stone which is symbolic to him busting through barriers and blazing through new territory.
“The detachment of the Stone of Hope from the Mountain of Despair reflects not only victory borne from disappointment, but allows the visitor a clear view of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial which reflects the principles of freedom and liberty which gave birth to the nation.” – National Park service website
The memorial is located on the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin. It is walking distance to several other National Monuments.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.Martin Luther King Jr.
I also loved the way the words of the quotes really stood out at night time. They seemed to pierce you even more as the light hit them.
You can read more about other places to visit for free in DC here.
Free Museum Admission on MLK Day
Many museums around the country offer free admission on MLK Day.
MLK day is also known as the National Day of Service. Out of inspiration for what MLK did, we can also choose to make a difference in other’s lives by volunteering somewhere in our community. You can use this site to find a service project near you.
You can learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial from their website.