On Sunday, thousands of people, including President Barack Obama, flocked to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C., to honor the deceased leader who spearheaded the nation's civil rights movement.
President Obama and some of Dr. King's children spoke during the four-hour ceremony, which was postponed from its original August date due to Hurricane Irene.
After arriving with his wife and children, President Obama spoke highly of Dr. King and his vision to push the nation toward change. King was assassinated in 1968, when the current President was a six-year-old boy.
He had faith in us, Obama said. And that is why he belongs on this Mall: Because he saw what we might become. As tough as times may be, I know we will overcome. I know there are better days ahead. I know this because of the man towering over us.
Obama, who cited King as his reason for being in the White House, left a copy of his inaugural speech in the monument's time capsule, which is part of the monument itself. He went on to say that the monument celebrates and remembers a leader who stirred our conscience and made the Union more perfect.
The President also said the monument, the first ever on the National Mall to honor a black leader and not a former president or a war, is not just a memorial for Dr. King, but for all the others involved in the national civil rights movement.
Dr. King would be the first to remind us that this memorial is not for him alone, Obama said, adding that it also honors the multitudes of men and women whose names never appear in the history books -- those who marched and those who sang, those who sat-in and those who stood firm, those who organized and those who mobilized -- all those men and women who through countless acts of quiet heroism helped bring about changes few thought were even possible.
Dr. King's children, Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, recited the famous I Have a Dream speech, asking others to help make that dream, which has not yet been fully realized, come true.
King III said the nation has lost its soul, citing the economic spiral, bullying and more people of color in prison than in college, according to The Associated Press.
The problem is [that] the American dream of 50 years ago ... has turned into a nightmare for millions of people who have lost their jobs and homes, King said.
Proud that the statue was finally erected, King's children said they hope it serves a purpose to rouse interest in the fight for social and economic justice.
The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial at the National Mall, carved by Chinese artist Lei Yixin, was inspired by a line from the 1963 I Have a Dream speech, Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope. Estimates show about 1.5 million people have already visited the MLK memorial, which stands 30-feet tall with 14 famous MLK quotes carved in stone.