During our trip to Washington DC, we got to see the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for the first time.
I was so excited to see this new memorial to honor a man of such great courage. 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. MLK was such a catalyst for change in our country. Our daytime visit to the site was a bit more crowded and had an energy and excitement about it.
There were people everywhere taking pictures in front of the monument. It was really interesting to observe how people reacted to the monument differently.
The memorial also features a wall that chronicles several quotes by MLK jr. during critical times in the country.
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.
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.
This is a memorial that you want to make sure that you see during a DC visit. I recommend taking in the views during the daytime and at night when all of the crowds are gone.
You can read more about other places to visit for free in DC here.
MLK day is also know as National Day of Service. Out of inspiration for what MLK did, we can also chose to make a difference in other’s lives by volunteering somewhere in your 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.