Thousands attended the formal dedication Sunday of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall – an emotional day for those, including President Obama, who came to honor the slain civil rights leader.
There were tears on the faces of some in the crowd.
“For this day, we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s return to the National Mall,” President Obama said. “In this place, he will stand for all time, among monuments to those who fathered this nation and those who defended it; a black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals, a man who stirred our conscience and thereby helped make our union more perfect.”
Congressman John Lewis attended the dedication. As the last surviving speaker who appeared on stage with King during his “I Have A Dream” speech on the National Mall in 1963, Lewis welcomed him home:
“King’s aspirations for this nation were “deeply rooted in the American dream.” And it is because of his unwavering commitment to the cause of justice, the principles of peace and non-violent activism, because of his insistence on the equal dignity of all humanity that he has found his place on the National Mall. Martin Luther King Jr. represents the very best in America. It was his moral voice that helped this nation turn the corner and lay down the burden of a grave injustice.”
“Thus it is fitting and so appropriate that we honor Martin Luther King Jr. in what I like to call “the frontyard of America”. He must be looked upon as one of the founders of the New America. He must be looked upon as one of the founders of a nation more prepared to meet its highest destiny. And that is why the image of this humble Baptist minister from Atlanta, Georgia, a man who was never elected to any public office, can be seen today standing on the National Mall between the monuments to two great presidents—Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.”
(LISTEN to — or READ — an article from NPR)