The ‘eternal’ flame at Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta went out Monday night as the nation celebrated the civil rights pioneer’s 83rd birthday – and it happened on live television. (Daily Mail By MICHAEL ZENNIE)
This isn’t the first time the flame in front of King’s tomb has been extinguished, either.
Atlanta Gas Light, which supplies gas to the flame, has had trouble keeping the fire lit without interruption since the utility company installed a new cauldron in 2009.
It happened when an evening anchor with WXIA-TV in Atlanta was at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change describing the day’s activities to celebrate the Martin Luther King Day holiday Monday.
The camera panned over to the eternal flame and it suddenly, as if on cue, extinguished itself.
A short time later, the flame was lit and burning again, the TV station says.
In 2010, a columnist with the Atlanta Business Journal pointed out that the cauldron had gone cold and dark and alerted the power company that maintains it.
Days later, the company discovered the pilot light was out and replaced broken parts inside the memorial.
The King Center is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site that includes King’s boyhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King and his father were pastors, and the tombs of King and his wife Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006.
The site was established in 1980 to honor the civil rights leader, who was assassinated in 1968.
Coretta Scott King established the King Center in 1969 to honor her slain husband.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s remains were moved from the cemetery where he was first buried to his public tomb at the King Center in 1997.