This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ethan Bursofsky
As the District celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, a memorial along the Tidal Basin in his honor is nearing completion, and may be revealed to the public this summer.
If the memorial is completed on time, a ceremony is planned for Aug. 28 that may be opened by President Barack Obama.
That date will mark the anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington in 1963 where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
MLK Jr. National Memorial Foundation spokeswoman Rica Orszag said the Foundation still needs funds for the memorial to be completed.
“So far we have reached a total of $108 million out of the needed $120 million needed for the completion of the monument,” Orszag said in an e-mail.
She explained that the Foundation must raise the remaining $12 million by Aug. 28 to complete the memorial in time. Obama will be invited to the opening ceremony to dedicate the memorial, Orszag said.
On this year’s holiday for King, part of the memorial’s 30-foot centerpiece, called the “Stone of Hope,” is visible to passersby.
The stone — depicting the Civil Rights leader standing tall — signifies the beginning of the final stages of the memorial construction. Since the Stone of Hope statue’s delivery to the memorial site in October, “the sculptor and his team have been fine tuning this piece,” Orszag said.
It’s taken more than a decade to create the memorial since former President Bill Clinton authorized congressional legislation proposing the establishment of an MLK memorial in D.C. in 1996.
In September 2008 the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts approved the final design for the memorial after debate over the sculpture’s appearance. Some thought one design made King’s statue look like that of a foreign dictator’s, and that version of the sculpture was rejected. Construction of the memorial began in fall 2009 after a permit was issued by the National Park Service.
More cherry trees and foliage are set to be added to the site to compliment the greenery already there. Some of the lighting and other electrical equipment has also going to be set up, Orszag said.
Orszag said there are various ways to get involved in the finalization of the memorial. More information on donating can be found at www.buildthedream.org, and those who want to volunteer with the organization can sign up at www.mlkmemorial.org.