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AT THE KING MEMORIAL

Monday - 1/21/2013, 5:49pm  ET

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, JAN. 21, 2013 AND THEREAFTER - FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, speaks to thousands during his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington. Actor-singer Sammy Davis Jr. is at bottom right. It has been cited as one of America's essential ideals, its language suggestive of a constitutional amendment on equality: People should "not be judged but he color of their skin but by the content of their character." Yet 50 years after the King's monumental statement, there is considerable disagreement over what this quote means when it comes to affirmative action and other measures aimed at helping the disadvantaged. (AP Photo/File)

The Associated Press

The hulking structure paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. didn't exist during President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009. It opened two years later, and this time it was a popular stop for people honoring the slain civil rights leader on the day of his remembrance as well as on the day of Obama's second public swearing-in.

Nicole Hailey, 34, had driven with her family from Monroe, N.C., a six-hour drive they started at midnight. She says her family made a point of coming to the MLK memorial before staking out a spot for the swearing-in ceremony. She says: "We're just celebrating freedom."

Jon Barton, 61, and his wife Brooke Stephens, 59, of Roanoke, Va., had knocked on doors to get out the vote for Obama. On Monday, they were visiting the MLK memorial before heading to the mall. "When you grew up in the 60s, this means a lot," Stephens said while looking at the statue of King.

And Kona Brown, 45, of Annapolis, Md., and her friend Donna Thomas, 45, of Fort Worth, Texas, were both visiting the memorial for the first time. Brown called it beautiful and emotional, because it brought back stories of the Civil Rights movement she was told growing up. "What better day to come see the memorial?" she said, adding that King had helped pave the way for Obama to become president.

-- Jessica Gresko -- Twitter http://twitter.com/JessicaGresko

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Inauguration Watch follows the events of President Barack Obama's second inaugural. Look for short items and photos throughout the day.


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