Irene no match for MLK Memorial

Tourists protect themselves from the rain as they view the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, as the wind and rain from Hurricane Irene reaches Washington, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011.
AP Photo/J. David Ake

It was to have been a wonderful day in Washington where people from all over the country were gathering to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on the anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech.

But that was all blown away - canceled - as the hurricane roared through, reminding us that for all our ingenuity we still cannot control the power and the force of nature.

So the massive statue stood alone in the storm, to be dedicated and celebrated another day.

An organizer of the event called postponing the dedication "heart breaking," and while disappointing to so many who worked so hard, no celebration was really necessary.

As Lincoln said of Gettysburg, those who died there "consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract."

King's great work requires no ceremony or validation. It is celebrated every time an American child is born to enjoy - and take for granted - a freedom so wrongly once denied.

The storm will pass and the King Memorial will take its place among the great monuments of Washington which are, after all, the index of our nation's values.

Those we honor remind us, and tell others, who we are and what we hold to be important.

But the monuments are only reminders. Each of us builds our own memorial by the work we do and the life we lead.

The storm reminded us of the power of nature, but King's work showed that the power of the human spirit is even greater.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.