By Debra Alfarone
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Hundreds sat on the lawn as the Washington Monument was lit up.
It was a celebration of a milestone for the historic obelisk that's been surrounded in scaffolding ever since the 2011 earthquake. A scrim hangs from the scaffolding, and 488 lights light it up from behind that.
David Rubenstein, co-founder of the investment firm The Carlyle Group is also a philanthropist who donated $7.5 million to help make this possible.
"I've been very fortunate to come from very modest circumstances and to make more money than I probably need to spend, so I want to give it away and I want to give it away to help this country. and I thought this was a good way to show appreciation for the good fortune I have had and my family's had," he said.
Caroline Cunningham is the President of the Trust for the National Mall whose job it is to preserve the entire Mall, "It's the largest individual contribution that we've received."
Hundreds came to see the lights that climb up the 555 foot tall monument, including Kevin Kloeppel and his family.
"It's our first year here in D.C., so we just want to come out here and celebrate," said Kloeppel.
"It's very special, were honored to live here and we enjoy learning about the history of our nation," said his wife, Alison.
The monument is on schedule to open up again in spring 2014.