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None of the National Park Service or memorial officials could say for sure how the phrase was overlooked, but Harry E. Johnson, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation, admitted that “mistakes were made about the memorial.”

“All I can say is let’s correct it if we can,” he added. “I believe overall everybody is pleased with the memorial.”

Wandering along one of the memorial’s granite walls, Dallas resident Rochelle Hurd, 46, said Thursday was her first visit to the memorial.

“I wish I could have seen it before they got started,” she said wistfully, looking over at the scaffolding and scrim that surrounds King’s towering figure.

Despite the work zone, Ms. Hurd said she could understand the need for the fix, and she imagined that King would have wanted the change as well.

“People who knew him knew how humble he was,” she said. “I just wonder why they didn’t ask people, or get their opinion. Why didn’t they do their research on something that could have been preventable.”