On visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., one is struck that -- amid all of the wonderful and moving words attributed to him and enshrined in granite -- not once is the word "dream" mentioned.
Growing up as a teenager in Kansas in the Sixties, I embraced Dr. King's message and argued with my family over the 1963 March on Washington. "I have a dream..." became a rallying cry for millions. The speech was riveting and has been hailed as one of this country's shining moments of oratory. When the omission at the memorial was mentioned to the park ranger staffing the Visitor's Center, he responded with "Everyone knows that phrase; they wanted to highlight other things." Incredible! How could we dedicate a space on the National Mall to a man known for his inspirational words and not include the phrase he is most known for? It would be like having a Lincoln Memorial without the Gettysburg Address. School children know better.
We propose to remedy the situation with a solution that has, surprisingly, revealed itself. The recent elimination of a paraphrased quote on the north side of the Stone of Hope has left a prime spot for something special. King's, seminal phrase, "I HAVE A DREAM..." would be the ideal complement to a quote from the same speech on the other side. Four words, said as introduction to a vision. Four words that lift and inspire. Four words that belong to this man and his legacy, to this memorial. Let's make it happen.
Words matter. Dr. Martin Luther King's words matter a great deal. Imagine the surprise I and so many others experienced when we visited his memorial in Washington, D.C. and discovered that the word "dream" does not appear on the engraved walls. You can walk the entire four acres, search as you might among the fifteen quotations, and yet not see the moving, iconic phrase, "I have a dream...". When a park official in the Visitor's Center was questioned about the omission, he respond, "Everyone knows that quote." He went on to say that it wasn't an oversight, that they wanted to introduce other important sayings from Dr. King's life. Incredible! By that logic, the Lincoln Memorial doesn't really need the Gettysburg Address. Everyone knows "Four score and seven years ago...". School children know better. We need to see the words, lest we forget.
We can do better. The situation has a ready and simple solution that has recently presented itself. With the removal of a paraphrased quote from the north side of the Stone of Hope, an ideal and prominent space has become available to display what has been missing. "I HAVE A DREAM..." would make the perfect complement to the quotation on the south side of the monument. Cost would be minimal and can be addressed later. What is important now, is establishing an awareness and desire to finish the memorial in a fitting way. I am asking that you add your name to a petition to make four words -- "I HAVE A DREAM..." -- a significant part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It just doesn't seem right without them.
Thanks for taking time to consider this request. If you can think of someone else who might be interested in signing, please pass this along. I am grateful and
Yours with a handshake,