Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today. But as you've, no doubt, been hearing and seeing on the radio and television, this year's MLK Day is slightly different. It falls on the eve of January 20th--the day the United States of America will officially call into office an African-American president. I use the term "call into office" because that's what so many Americans did this year when they cast their ballots. They called Barack Obama into office. They asked for a change in the way the country governs itself. But not only that, they asked for a change in the way our country views itself.

Tomorrow is going to be a big deal! I've been listening to interviews on the radio featuring prominent African-Americans in our country--politicians, writers, war veterans, responding to questions about what today and Barack Obama's inauguration means to them. Most said that they never thought they would see this day. Many were proud of their country and the steps forward that it's taken, but also mindful of how far America has to go.

I'm not black. I didn't march with Dr. King. I didn't experience the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's. But I have a lot of hope in people. As an American I'm sharing in the excitement of this time. I haven't always been proud of things that have gone on in this country or that the United States have been involved in with other countries, but I've never been one of those people to say that I'm going to move to Canada because I don't like a particular administration in office. It's kind of like my father. He may not have always been proud of everything I did, in fact, I know I disappointed him many times, but those things never amounted to him not loving me and encouraging me.

Things have been bad. The current, soon-to-be past administration was disappointing in many ways, but let's not dwell on them. This is a time of encouragement in our country.

I'm excited about tomorrow. I have to be honest, I didn't really think I would be seeing the inauguration of an African-American president. But I'm thrilled. I'm proud knowing that in my lifetime I can look back and show my children and grandchildren one of the "high water marks" of American history.

I've been to the civil rights museum in Memphis, TN twice. It's the place where Dr. King was assassinated. It's a powerful place. It gave me chills and made my eyes water when I saw the balcony where he fell. But I was also inspired. The Lorraine Hotel was such a humble place. It wasn't a plush hotel where dignitaries or celebrities stayed. It was a small motel, but it represented to me the power of humility and strength in ordinary people who act against extraordinary circumstances.

Here is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech in it's entirety. And I know you're probably thinking, "I don't need to listen to it. I've heard it millions of times." But I encourage you to listen to it just one more time. It's a good one.

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