MLK memorial officially dedicated this weekend
October 14, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Thousands of people are heading to the National Mall in Washington DC this weekend to celebrate the official dedication of the national monument honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Originally, the dedication was planned for late August, but an approaching storm left memorial organizers scrambling.
"In the words of Dr. King, we must accept the finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
In late August, the stunned CEO of the Martin Luther King Memorial faced television cameras as Hurricane Irene roared towards the East Coast.
With the worst of the storm supposed to hit land during the planned events, organizers had no choice but to cancel the original dedication. Instead, a planned private ceremony for members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity took on new significance.
Dr. King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, and its members spearheaded the fundraising and development of the memorial.
After speeches and singing, it was a moving moment, as members of Martin Luther King Jr.'s family and civil rights leaders joined arms and marched from the stage to the monument.
"In the midst of presidents and war memorials, you now have a man of peace," said Martin Luther King III.
The official dedication has been moved to this Sunday morning. President Barack Obama will speak to about 700 invited guests, including king family members and civil rights leaders, in front of what is called the "mountain of despair," the gateway to the memorial.
The rest of the public will watch on TV screens about 100 yards away from the memorial, in the same location the main Alpha Phi Alpha event took place in August.
While visitors to Washington DC have been allowed to tour the monument since the week of the original planned ceremony, after Friday's event, the monument is officially be dedicated and reopened to the public.
"All Americans should see this," said Evanston resident Rami Hagari. "It's truly something to witness."
ABC 7's coverage of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial will start Sunday at 6 a.m. -- live from Washington. We will be there throughout the morning's events and we will speak with some of the people from the Chicago area who are making the trip.
For now, the memorial site is closed for the weekend as the Secret Service and park police prepare for the president's speech at the dedication. Organizers hope to have it reopened by early Sunday evening.
local, cheryl burton
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