WASHINGTON (Gray DC/WWBT) — Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington has a different look this year amid a partial government shutdown. Without government funding, visitors trying to honor the King are not able to get the full experience.
There is a relative hush on the National Mall where a memorial erected in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. stands tall.
“It’s pretty quiet here today. But good, you know, to enjoy here,” said Kelly Carnacini, a visitor from Miami.
Carnacini landed in Washington smack dab in the middle of the partial government shutdown, meaning government funded museums and parks are closed.
In years past, ceremonies marked the special day with wreath laying’s and high profile speeches. This year, the public can still access Dr. King’s memorial, but it is not being staffed by park rangers on his holiday.
“I still think it’s cool that people come out and pay their respects and see something very important to the nation,” said Josh Heithaus, a high school student from Florida.
Heithaus and his mother Linda cannot visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture which also honors MLK’s legacy, because it too is closed. They made sure to stop at his unkempt memorial, so they could still pay homage in the middle of political turmoil.
“He tried very hard to bring everybody together. And I think we need to remember all those values and things he stood for. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’ I remember that almost daily,” said Heithaus.
Visitors will have to wait for the White House and Congress to come to a funding agreement before these memorials and museums return to a sense of normalcy.
Today marked the 33rd annual commemoration celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Henrico.
The event was held at Henrico High School, and Senator Tim Kaine was one of the keynote speakers.
After a speech on racial equality, Senator Kaine shared his thoughts on the government shutdown - the longest in U.S. history.
“The president put a proposal on the table over the weekend for border security. the senate should address that proposal in committee and on the floor, but we shouldn’t keep government shut down," said Senator Kaine. “So let’s reopen government, then we can have hearings on the president’s proposal and find a bipartisan solution. The government should not be shut down.”