Despite the wet remnants of Hurricane Irene, hundreds flocked to the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. Sunday to pay homage to the legacy of the late civil rights leader in the wind and rain.
The formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington was planned to coincide with the 48th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and King's famed "I Have A Dream" speech. But organizers announced Thursday that the main event would be postponed to September or October, as storm clouds loomed and forecasters predicted a dangerous and damaging storm.
On Sunday, as Irene moved north leaving clear skies and little precipitation, the many travelers who were already in the area kept their plans to visit the Memorial.
"I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to have enjoyed the opportunity to be here. I'm blessed,” said Al Lee, a teacher from California, who stuck to his travel plans, made in January.
Officials reported that there was little debris from the storm left by the time crowds gathered on Sunday, giving visitors an uninhibited opportunity to take in the historic occasion.
"I'm very impressed. It is done just right," said visitor Daniel Boyle from Virginia. "It's a powerful projection of Martin Luther King's personality and achievements. It captures it."
The $120 million Memorial features a towering, 30–foot statue of King and an inscription wall covered with stone carvings of some of his most famous quotes. In the spring, the four–acre area will feature the iconic cherry blossom trees that the Washington D.C. area is famously known for. The King Memorial lies between the Lincoln Memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and represents the first and only African-American to be honored on the National Mall.
"We've come quite a ways, but not far enough," teacher Travis Parker, said. "The fact that we have an African-American president doesn't mean that we've arrived, but that there are possibilities."
(Photo: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)