Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Fiascos

By:  Ralph R. Reiland
Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Fiascos

How can they think they’re capable of managing a complex health care system, one-seventh of the entire U.S. economy, when they can’t even build a half-decent statue?

That’s the question that came to mind about the bureaucrats, politicians, and central planners in D.C. when I saw that Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin was busy doing major re-carving in order to conceal an incorrect phrase at the $110 million Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington that he designed. At an estimated additional cost of $700,000 to $900,000, Lei is attempting to cover up a flawed quote by carving horizontal grooves over the words to match existing horizontal striation marks on the memorial’s statue of King.

On the rest of the statue, Lei is working to deepen all grooves so they’ll match the new grooves.

The downside is that the fix might cause cracking. "The difficulty is the new striations — so they won't damage the integrity of the statue itself," Lei cautioned. "If it has some cracks, we could deal with them." Perhaps with another million or so.

The quote elimination and makeover grooves are supposed to be completed by August 28, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The phrase that was supposed to be carved on the statue of King, an exact quotation, came from King’s “Drum Major” speech, delivered in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1968, two months before he was assassinated.

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” said King in that sermon. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

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