Washington, DC -- The National monument to America’s greatest Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was unveiled Monday on the Mall in Washington, where he joins Jefferson and Lincoln among America’s heroes. The official dedication is Sunday, the 48th anniversary of his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ address to the March on Washington.

The monument shows Dr. King emerging from a great slab of granite and is based on the line from that speech in which he said, “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

Rep. Eliot Engel said, “Too often, our society has stumbled along the way to Dr. King's dream.  We forget what is at the core of his philosophy, which Dr. King said best himself:‘Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.’”

Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin's overall concept for the sculpture echoes Dr. King’s quote: Visitors walk through the "Mountain of Despair" segment before coming to the 30-foot "Stone of Hope" and King's visage. Nearby granite walls are carved with King's eloquent words, and the plaza is dotted with cherry trees. The King Memorialis the only one on the Mall that doesn't honor a president or commemorate a war.

“This is the 25th anniversary of the holiday for Dr. King's birthday being established,” said Rep. Engel. “It is staggering to think that Dr. King was only 39 years old on that awful day in Memphis, a remarkable age to have achieved so much and to have changed forever the direction of our country.

“Dr. King contributed so much to the fabric and the soul of America and my intention is to continue trying to emulate his example to make the America inherited by our children better than the one we inherited from our parents.”