Stone of Hope

I missed the polar vortex in Washington, DC by a day. From the day before to my first full day, the temperature shot up about 20 degrees, from the low-20s to the low-40s. That might be standard DC winter temps, but as a California boy, damn did I suffer wandering from memorial to memorial.

I visited them all before during my first ever visit to DC back in 2006, so it had been a few years since I last walked by them. One memorial I hadn’t seen yet was the monument that commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite seeing pictures of it, for some reason I wasn’t prepared for how large the statue is in-person. The monument was inspired by a line from his “I Have a Dream” speech that reads “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Two equally large granite stones stand split behind King, he being the stone of hope that came from the mountain.

Jefferson Memorial, from the MLK Jr Memorial
Photo by National Park Service/Bill Shugarts

King’s stoic figure, with arms crossed–his form and gaze hewed, literally and figuratively, from granite–looks across the Tidal Basin, which was frozen over at the time, toward the Jefferson Memorial. Behind him, in a straight line of sight, is the Lincoln Memorial, the inscribed words of the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural address supporting King forward through the mountain of despair. Powerful symbolism and a powerful monument for a man with great deeds.



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