MLK memorial dedication set for Oct. 16

September 11, 2011

The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, which was postponed because of Hurricane Irene, will be held next month, said Ed Jackson Jr., the monument’s executive architect.

In an interview Sunday evening, Jackson said the ceremony will “absolutely . . . definitely” be Oct. 16, beginning at 11 a.m.

Project organizers “will be regrouping [Monday] to go over all the details,” Jackson said.

The program might differ in some ways from what had been scheduled for Aug. 27, before warnings of the impending storm forced a postponement.

“We have to go back and confirm all of the speakers and entertainers that were planned,” Jackson said.

He said details of the schedule for dedicating the $120 million memorial “will be forthcoming.”

Jackson was interviewed after the new date was reported by the Associated Press. It appeared Sunday evening that the choice of the new date was relatively recent.

No announcement appeared on the memorial’s Web site as of late Sunday afternoon, and a spokesman for the National Park Service said he could not confirm that a permit had been issued.

Jackson said he understood that a permit had been obtained, possibly through renewal of the previous permit request.

“It could simply have been resubmitted,” he said.

Harry E. Johnson Sr., president and chief executive of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, could not be reached.

In announcing the delay in August, Johnson released a statement saying that “it is with a heavy heart and enormous disappointment that we announce that, in the interest of public safety, we are forced to change our plans.”

Forecasts had suggested that the effects of Irene could be widespread and severe. Washington escaped the worst of the storm, but it caused heavy damage elsewhere.

At the time the postponement was announced, Johnson had quoted King: “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.” Memorial officials had said only that the new date would be in September or October.

Thousands of people from across the United States had been expected to attend the August dedication of the memorial, with its 30-foot sculpture of King.

The memorial, which opened to the public Aug. 22, is on parkland near the Tidal Basin, between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. It is not far from the Washington Monument and the memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The King memorial has been 26 years in the making. When reached Sunday evening, Jackson was in his office in the District.

After all of the time expended on the project, he said, “you don’t stop now.”

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