In Honor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(The following article first appeared in a column I wrote for the Purcellville Gazette Newspaper in 2006)

Today, January 16th, is Martin Luther King Day, a day of remembrance for a man who gave his life for his country. One who had the courage to stand up for his beliefs, to demand change where change was needed and to stand tall in the face of fear.

“I don’t want to die,” he said. “But if anyone must die, let it be me.”

How many among us could make such a clear and undeniable statement of belief? I’m not sure I could. But I’m forever grateful that some men can.

All across the metro area and rippling through the country are events organized in tribute to him.  His “I Have a Dream” speech rings throughout the land, and prayers are being said that the work he started will continue to bear fruit.

In the morning papers I see listings for prayer breakfasts, marches and readings. Mr. Ezra Hill Sr., a member of the Tuskegee Airman will deliver a keynote address in Reston. In Rockville, Clara L. Adams-Ender, a retired brigadier general and the author of “My Rise to the Stars: How a Sharecroppers Daughter Became an Army General” is the featured speaker at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater. In the District, a National Day of Service is observed in commemoration of theMontgomerybus boycott. These events and so many more are held each year to remind us of how far we have come and prod us into recognizing how far we have to go.

This space usually features local people who move through our community living the same quiet uncelebrated lives full of personal adventure and private adversity as the rest of us. In the last year there have been stories about moms, kids, black walnut crackers and bull riders, to list a few.

Why then do I choose to feature such a celebrated man today?

Because he is indeed a part of our community, because he loved his wife, his family and his church.  Because on the front page of the Washington Post is picture of him with his arm around his wife, smiling with joy and pride as she plants a kiss on his cheek. Because when I look at it I see him momentarily at peace with the world, happy to know he is admired by the woman he loves. It could be a picture of any man, anywhere having a good day.  And it is in that moment the true meaning of his story shines through. We are not different. We are all in this world together striving to make our dreams come true.

“I don’t want to die,” he said. “But if anyone must die, let it be me.”

Let us resolve once more to make sure he did not die in vain. Join hands to make tomorrow a better day. Join hearts to assure that the dream continues.

If you have a dream, a special wish to make the world a better place, please share it here by commenting on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

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