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  The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Photo courtesy of Master Lei Yixin

Getting To The Promised Land

Architect Ed Jackson helps bring King Memorial to the nation’s capital

By Cyra Master

Originally written Thursday, December 15, 2011

It was 1963, and 14-year-old Ed Jackson Jr. ’73 FAA wanted to be part of history as civil rights leaders flocked to the District of Columbia.

“When I was young in McComb, [Miss.], and the March on Washington was taking place, I really wanted to be present,” Jackson says. “But my mother was fearful to travel across the South in those days. I couldn’t understand it, but she did.”

She told her son his time would come.

“She said, ‘You’ll have the opportunity to make your mark,’” Jackson says and pauses with a smile.

“Mama was right.”

Nearly 50 years later, the architect’s mark is on display in our nation’s capital for the world to see. Nestled amid the cherry blossom trees on the northwest bank of the Tidal Basin stands the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, honoring the man – and martyr – who served as the engine of the U.S. civil rights movement. Jackson, executive architect, has been a shepherd and a steward of the project for more than a decade.

“People want me to express my emotions” now that the memorial is complete, says Jackson, a retired Army major. “But in the military, if you become emotional, you lose your competitive edge.

“I look at it as though it’s a mission. ... I have, for the last 15 years, looked at it that way.

“I’m sure the time will come when I will step back and have a moment to exhale like a lot of people do when they come here.”

That’s exactly what visitors do. The memorial, dedicated on Oct. 16, has been open to the public since August and draws steady crowds. School tours mingle with groups of World War II veterans as people pose for pictures and admire the view.

Jackson makes clear that this is not a monument – a fixture that marks an event in the past – but a “living memorial” to Dr. King and his ideas.

Read more:  http://www.uiaa.org/illinois/news/blog/index.asp?id=380

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