Photos: The new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC Although the formal dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC, is not until August 28 (as we indicated in this post last week), the memorial officially opened on Monday. I was among the hundreds of tourists and locals that visited the new MLK Memorial and below are some photos I took of the site.

To give you a sense of what you will be looking at, the King Memorial is situated between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials on four acres of the National Mall overlooking the Tidal Basin. One enters the King Memorial through a “mountain of despair,” symbolism mentioned in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:

“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Beyond the mountain of despair lies the “stone of hope,” from which a 30-foot marble statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges. Surrounding the central statue of Dr. King are low, granite walls inscribed with 14 quotes from Dr. King’s speeches.

%Gallery-131376%

First look at the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial On August 28, 48 years to the day that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, the nation’s capital will dedicate a memorial to him on the National Mall. The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial will be the first memorial on the Mall dedicated to an African-American and the first solo memorial for a non-president.

The MLK Memorial is located on four acres on the Tidal Basin, site of Washington’s famous Japanese cherry trees, and sits within a “line of leadership” between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The line ties Dr. King to President Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation and on whose memorial Dr. King gave his “Dream” speech, and Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. “Peace” and “independence” are two of the main themes of the MLK Memorial, even down to the Memorial’s official address. The street number in the address 1964 Independence Ave, SW, Washington, DC 20024 refers to the Civil Right’s Act of 1964.

Although it does not open for another week, would-be visitors can watch the construction cam to watch workers put the finishing touches on the King Memorial. The video below also provides more information about the memorial, its location, design, and landscaping.




[Photo credit www.mlkmemorial.org]

Walk in the steps of a great leader

Dr KingFebruary is Black History Month, a time to remember important people and events in history. It’s the history of a nation delayed from realizing a great deal of it’s potential through callous bigotry. It’s people like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr who made a difference and were a driving force in a movement that would finally bring change.

This year, lonely planet has an idea for something meaningful we can do to honor the past, celebrate today and look forward to an even better tomorrow.

Lonely Planet is offering a free PDF itinerary called “Tracing Martin Luther King, Jr.,” which outlines a trip across America’s south, following the civil rights leader’s road from Atlanta to that fateful date in Memphis.

It’s a distance of 600 miles over 3 or 4 days and the best time to go is between March and May.

On April 4, 1968, a true American hero was silenced in Memphis, Tennessee. But the words and life of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr will forever remain in the public consciousness as the soundtrack to civil rights. This eye-opening journey traces his revolutionary footsteps, starting in Atlanta and continuing on to Memphis, stopping in Jackson, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama to see a house where King once lived which is now a museum.

An included narrative adds a surreal element of detail not normally touched on by contemporary sources.

“The next day, while standing on the balcony outside room 306 at the Lorraine Motel on the south end of downtown Memphis, a shot rang out that took off half of MLK, Jr’s neck and jaw. He collapsed, one foot hanging off the railing, and died. Two months later, James Earl Ray was captured at London’s Heathrow Airport (on the same day that Senator Robert Kennedy, who was also assassinated, was laid to rest)…”

Even just reading through the well-written .pdf file brings back vivid memories for those alive at the time and a reason to be thankful for all the work done for those who were not.

Black History Month is celebrated in the United States and Canada in February and in the United Kingdom in October.

Five famous fathers: Visit where they lived with their children

For a Father’s Day nod to famous fathers, it seemed apropos to do a post on Father’s Day travel with a twist. Read a biography of famous men and it may take more than a few paragraphs to get to their children. The children seem tucked in between those details that made a man famous. Regardless how much or how little press is given to the offspring, there are landmarks where these men lived with the people who helped keep their legacies alive.

Although these are the sites we head to to find out about what made these men tick as contributors to the rest of us, they are also the places that children called home, and where the men who might have tucked them in at night were called “Dad” (or “Papa,” or “Father” or “Pops” or some other variation) by those people whose tiny hands they once held in their own.

Here are five men through history who have had an influence on the world and where you can visit where they lived with their children. From humble houses to elaborate palaces, here are five places where you can imagine the varied conversations that happened within the walls–the type that only fathers and children share.

1. Henry VIII (Religion)–Hampton Court Palace, London. This Tudor palace is where King Henry 8th of England, with a penchant for beheading his wives, lived the most. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture with a fascinating history and a remarkable maze in the garden. Henry’s three children used this palace as a haven after they became adults as well. Son Edward was christened in the chapel and Mary spent her honeymoon here. Henry died when Edward was nine. The two daughters were older. Henry’s desire to divorce his wives led to the England’s shift away from Roman Catholicism.

2. Abraham Lincoln (Politics)–Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois. This is a hallmark year to visit the house where Lincoln lived with his family prior to becoming president. Take a guided walk in the neighborhood where Lincoln took strolls, probably with sons Robert, Willie and Tad (son Edward died.) Lincoln brought the North and South back together.

3. Claude Monet (Art)–Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny, France. Monet moved to this lovely farm with his family and lived here for 43 years. Here he painted is famous works connected to Impressionism and provided a haven of art and creativity for his brood made up of eight children. When you look at Monet’s studio where he painted, inspired by the garden on the property, imagine what his children saw and how the smell of paint and flowers were prominent in their lives.

4. Martin Luther King Jr.(Civil Rights)–Dexter Parsonage Museum, Montgomery, Alabama. Visit the house where Martin Luther King Jr. lived where he was a young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist church. This is where he was living with his four children and wife when someone threw a bomb onto the porch. You can still see the damage. No one was hurt. The house looks as if the King family just stepped outside for a moment. It’s a step back in time for sure. King’s message of equality provides hope and drive to those who are struggling for equal rights. If it wasn’t for him, and those who rallied behind his words, where would we be?

5. Elvis Presley (Music and Popular Culture) Memphis, Tennessee–Graceland. No matter what a person thinks of the over-the-top decor of Graceland, it’s the place where Elvis felt at home and he lived with his wife Priscilla and daughter, Lisa Marie until Priscilla moved out, taking Lisa Marie with her. Still, this is the home where Lisa Marie can still go to remember her dad who made a big time impact on popular culture and music. The photo is of Lisa Marie’s swing set in the back yard.

Charlton Heston movie trivia and travel

When I read that Charlton Heston died last night, an image of him parting the Red Sea as Moses crossed my mind. “The Ten Commandments” was on TV just two weeks ago. While channel flipping, I came across it and he was just getting ready to hold up that staff. According to the New York Times article, the scene where he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandment tablets was filmed at Mount Sinai.

Planet of the Apes” has several locations you can also go to and might recognize if you watch the movie. The scene with the top of the Statue of Liberty resting in the sand was filmed in a cove near Point Dume at Zuma in Malibu. The rest of the desert scenes were filmed around Lake Powell (where the spaceship crashed and the crew went to land), Glen Canyon and Page, Utah. I’ve driven through these places and they are gorgeous. I can imagine back in the 60s they were less traveled than today. Malibu Creek State Park was where the ape village was built. Fox Studios use to own the property. Here’s Charlton Heston’s World, a Web site I came across that has several “Planet of the Apes” photos and audio clips.

Other trivia. If you head to Rome, you’ll be near where the chariot race in “Ben-Hur “was filmed at Cinecittà Studios and the Sistine Chapel where Heston played Michaelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy.

As an interesting aside, not movie related, Charlton Heston was involved in the Civil Rights March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. With Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination 40 years-ago, just the day before yesterday, and Heston’s death the day after, that struck me. I don’t know why. It just did.