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Billionaire donates $7.5 million to save Washington Monument

Video shows people inside monument running down stairs during earthquake.

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    Billionaire David Rubenstein, co founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group, has pledged the money because he wants to give something back to America.

    The monument cracked during the August earthquake centered in Virginia last summer in 2011.

    “Really, this is something that was built by the American people because of their admiration and love of George Washington,” Rubenstein said, saying the monument cost $1 million in donations. “I kind of want to repay a debt I have to the country.”

    “Because of what he did, we have a terrific republic, and I think Americans and people all over the world want to come here and see this monument,” Rubenstein, a son of a postal worker, said.

    “I come from very modest circumstances, and I’m very fortunate to have achieved wealth beyond what I ever expected,” he said. “I don’t think that I want to be buried with my wealth. … I’d like to have the pleasure of giving it away to things I think are good while I’m alive.”

    David M. Rubenstein

    David M. Rubenstein

    Last month, he gave $4.5 million to the National Zoo’s panda program.

    The monument has developed deep cracks that could take until August 2013 to fix.

    Congress has already pledged $7.5 million to fix the monument, and Rubenstein matched that amount for a total price tag of $14 million to fix the cracks at the top. More money will be needed to repair rain damage from water seeping through the cracks and earthquake reinforcements.

    Cracks at the top of the monument from the August Earthquake in 2011

    Cracks at the top of the monument from the August Earthquake in 2011

    Money ran out to finish building the monument during the Civil War in 1848, and the monument looked like a stump until 1884. It was the tallest manmade structure in the world until the Eiffel Tower.

    The design of the monument is influenced by Freemasons; George Washington was a lifetime member.

    An article entitled “Those Revolutionary Masons.” from the Washington Post February 16, 1992 says that a page of George Washington’s family bible was torn out and placed in the cornerstone of the Washington Monument when it was being constructed.

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