No Boat From China - NBC4 Washington

No Boat From China

Economy sinks Greek plan to ship King Memorial to U.S.

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    When it opens in the fall of 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial along the TIdal Basin is expected to draw visitors from not just the United States but from around the world. 

    For now, though, the bad world economy is putting a crimp in the plans to finish the memorial on time.

    Everyone knows that Greece's economy has been faltering. The country recently had to pull the plug on its plan to help with the King memorial construction by using the vast Greek shipping industry.

    The Greek government said it could not afford the $250,000 cost of shipping 1,600 metric tons of stone from China to a port in Baltimore.

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    "We were given a gracious apology from the Greeks," said Ed Jackson, the executive architect of the $120 million project that is being financed through mostly private funds. "They indicated to us that they could not fulfill the promise they had offered to us."

    The sixteen-hundred tons of stone work includes the "Mountain of Despair" and the "Stone of Hope."  The latter includes the three-story likeness of Martin Luther King gazing out on the Tidal Basin.

    Jackson said the Greek offer originally had been a pleasant development.  It meant the memorial could use the $250,000 for other expenses.

    But now, the memorial foundation is busy trying to line up shipping to get the stonework to the Baltimore port and ultimately, in stages, to the Tidal Basin site, Jackson said. If all goes well, the stonework will be on American soil by the end of July and parts of it will be shipped and ready for construction beginning no later than September.

    The good news is that the stonework will arrive 80 percent complete and will only need to be assembled, Jackson said.  The remaining 20 percent of construction requires more on-site work. 

    Jackson said both the memorial foundation and Greek officials were disappointed by the shipping developments. Among his other studies, King was a noted student of Greek philosophy.

    "We just simply missed an opportunity to tie Dr. King to Greece ... it's a powerful story," Jackson told News4. 


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