- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2014

A morning wreath laying will kick off events across the District on Monday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the national holiday established to recognize the slain civil rights leader.

The ceremony, scheduled for 8 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall, is expected to draw up to 1,000 people. The event is being hosted by the National Park Service.

“When we built the memorial, we built it with the goal of it being a physical beacon that would inspire people to engage and act in their own lives,” said Kerry-Ann T. Powell, director of development and programs for the Friends of the Memorial Foundation.

The National Park Service said 3.2 million people visited the monument last year, the 50th anniversary of King’s March on Washington. The figure was down about 14 percent from 2012, when about 3.7 people saw the memorial in the first full year it was open.

But beyond the wreath-laying event, thousands of people are expected to participate in service projects over the King holiday — the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s signature project, “It Takes a Village,” deployed volunteer teams to senior-citizens housing complexes to raise awareness about emergency planning.

It was one of some 30 volunteer opportunities citywide.

Mr. Gray is also expected to help kick off events by the group City Year, which is organizing service projects Monday morning that include painting murals, maintaining playgrounds and building benches at Coolidge High School in Northwest. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and up to 300 volunteers are scheduled to participate in the event, which begins at 8:30 a.m.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and more than 125 high school and college students are planning to beautify and repair Fort Dupont Park in Southeast beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Ms. Powell said the memorial foundation does not endorse any specific service project. But she hoped for people to find out what was going on in their communities and get involved.

Other events include an 11 a.m. parade in Anacostia and a 5 p.m. musical selection at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Washington National Cathedral also is holding musical performances and poetry readings during a program that begins at 2 p.m.

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