Washington Monument reopens to public
This morning, the Washington Monument reopened for the first time since August of 2011. The monument had been undergoing repairs after it was damaged by an earthquake that occurred southwest of D.C. The Washington Monument reopened Monday with fanfare, some famous faces and a tribute to American service members.
“We ask that you remember the men and women who proudly serve in the U.S. armed forces, making our freedoms possible,” said specialist Ricardo Martins.
Just three years ago, the 555 foot tall monument was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Left behind, more than 150 cracks and a total of $15 million in damage. Funding the repairs presented a challenge, met in part by billionaire history buff David Rubenstein.
“David likes to consider himself a patriotic philanthropist,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewel. “He paid fully for half of the repairs of the national monument, $7.5 million.”
“I have had good fortune,” stated Rubenstein. “I really wanted to give back to the country.”
Monday’s ceremony celebrated the efforts to restore the monument to full glory, as well as its status as one of the most iconic structures in the world.
“The Washington Monument doesn’t just memorialize America’s first president, it’s actually borne witness to some of the greatest trials our country has faced and overcome. It is literally a history lesson in marble,” said Al Roker.
And in honor of American service members, the first tour given Monday was for a group of wounded warriors. Over 700,000 tourists are expected to visit the monument over the next year.