Carol Johnson, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, told The Root that while the foundation did not sit in on any meetings, officials had telephone conversations with representatives to get their ideas. “The only people that actually met with the interior secretary and the [NPS] director were members of the King family,” she said. “After a number of people gave their input, the decision has been made.”
Ed Jackson Jr., the memorial’s executive architect who works under the foundation, called the NPS’s “unilateral” decision making “bewildering.” More important, he thinks that the plan will destroy the memorial. He told The Root why he believes that the foundation’s alternative proposal makes more sense, his reason for using the abridged quotation in the first place and his disappointment over the NPS and King family’s about-face on the matter.
The Root: How would the National Park Service’s solution threaten the structure and integrity of the Stone of Hope exactly?
Ed Jackson: To carve away a portion of the centerpiece of the memorial and try to replace it with a matching veneer stone, it will forever look like a repair job. It won’t give you the same pristine, monolithic image that you see there today.
The proposal that we put forth was adding to the existing paraphrase, and to my estimation it captures the essence of what that statement was all about. We proposed adding [to the beginning]: “Yes, if you want to say I was a drum major, say … ” That would only be two additional lines on the stone.
The design impact of putting the full quote would be to change the size of the letters. Our artists of record — not only the sculptor himself, Lei Yixin, but Nick Benson, the engraver — felt that the font size should approximately match the font on the other side that says, “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” With the two lines that we want to add, we are still able to retain the size of the font. But with this full quote the Park Service is talking about, they will have to reduce the size of the font considerably.
TR: After Secretary Salazar ordered a correction last month, did you present your proposal to the National Park Service?
EJ: Yes, we did. They said we were going to have a meeting with a committee that they were pulling together and that we would discuss it. The committee met, from what we read in the paper, and had conversations subsequent to that. But we were not invited. We found out about their decision through the press.