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Let Freedom Ring Commemoration Draws Thousands

National Mall and Memorial Parks

National Park News

It was all hands on deck Wednesday afternoon for National Park Service employees and hundreds of volunteers and staff from many other organizations in and around Washington D.C. who pitched in to support the conclusion of a week of commemorative events that brought tens of thousands who wanted to be part of this moment in history. 

The “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was highlighted by Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

President Obama thrilled thousands of invited guests and the general public lining the Reflecting Pool with his inspirational comments on the importance of continuing the work begun 50 years ago.    

“The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate,” he said. “But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together.”

Other speakers who came to share their perspective on the significance of this commemoration included former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; Congressman John Lewis; Director Jon Jarvis; Lynda Johnson Robb and Caroline Kennedy, daughters, respectively, of Presidents Johnson and Kennedy, and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.

In addition to the speakers there was a variety of music and performances to make this a most memorable occasion.

To conclude the ceremony the dignitaries stepped up to watch the family of Martin Luther King, Jr. ring the bell that hung in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.  The bell survived the 1963 bombing of the church that killed four girls and created a national outrage that contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


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