WASHINGTON – Harry Johnson said people will tear up when they get a glimpse of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.
Johnson,president of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation,participated in a media tour of the construction site Tuesday. The memorial is slated to open to the public Aug. 28. Fifty-five percent of the construction on the memorial is complete.
The 4-acre area located along the Tidal Basin will include a wall of 15 famous quotes from King,cherry trees and a bookstore.
Johnson said the location of the memorial is important. “The place is a national progression of leadership,” he said.
In the main plaza there will be the Mountain of Despair that symbolizes peace and equality. The two giant stone structures will serve as a walkway to the Stone of Hope that depicts King. The statue is surrounded by scaffolding.
The site looks about half done. Many of the quotes are on one side of a wall that is finished,and the Mountains of Despair and the Stone of Hope are up,although they are not finished.
The foundation has raised $108 million for construction,but it still needs to raise $12 million before the memorial opens to the public.
All of the money the foundation has is going toward construction.
Johnson said he is optimistic money will be raised to open the memorial to the public on time. “We are confident that construction will not stop,” he said.
In 1998,Congress authorized the establishment of a King memorial. Former President Bill Clinton signed the resolution allowing the building of the memorial in Washington. When the memorial is finished,it will be turned over to the National Park Service to operate and maintain.
Lisa Anders,the construction project manager,said work will continue through the winter on a building that will become a bookstore,landscaping and the rest of the inscriptions of quotes.
Executive architect for the memorial,Ed Jackson,said after working on the memorial for 14 years,he is excited that it is almost complete.
“The experience of a 30-foot stone centerpiece capturing the image of Dr. King with his arms folded and a scroll of paper in his hand looking over the Tidal Basin in the direction of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial,” he said,“is a breathtaking experience.”