Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial to be ready for 50th anniversary

Photo: Suzanne Kennedy

Repairs to both the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial will be completed in time for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, officials say.

Three weeks after the Lincoln Memorial became the first of several D.C. landmarks to be defaced with paint, crews finished cleaning the monument Friday.

After a brief scare that indicated that repair work on the MLK Memorial wouldn't be finished, officials say the repairs will be done in time after all.

Brothers Larry and James Wesley from Waldorf are hosting a family reunion. They made it a point to make the MLK Memorial the last stop on their family tour.

In 1963, the brothers took part in the March on Washington when they were in their teens.

"It was tremendous,” Larry Wesley says. “It was eye opening for a lot of people. The speech was one thing, but to see the masses of people who showed. It was white, black, Chinese. It was no one culture."

Now 67, he is glad to see thousands of others will be able to stand in front the massive statue of the civil rights leader in the coming weeks.

Like in the original march, the Lincoln Memorial will be a centerpiece of the planned events. On Friday, National Park Service workers carefully peeled away the protective covering on the memorial.

The National Park Service and a contractor tasked to remove the controversial "drum major" quote from the side of the MLK Memorial found a solution to their problem, officials said Thursday. They now anticipate that their work will be complete before sculptor Lei Yixin leaves the city.

An executive architect told the Associated Press on Monday that a disagreement on how to complete the project, namely over the technique to be used to sandblast and refinish the stone, could hold up completion of the work.

After the quote was officially removed Aug. 1 after nearly a week of work, the side remained unfinished because the contractor tasked with the work, Baltimore-based Worcester Eisenbrandt, didn't have the proper insurance to sandblast the stone in the same fashion in which it was originally done.

The contractor used a different technique to finish the stone, but that left discoloration where the quote was once inscribed.

Workers were called in to remove the "drum major" quote after public outcry that the inscription was taken out of context.