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Thoughts on the eve of the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 21, 2008

The part of the speech that really caught my attention began with “I have a dream.” I was 9 years old when Dr. King delivered that speech via our small black & white television set. As I listened to Dr. King’s words, I remember thinking it odd that he felt it necessary to talk about a dream of a future where blacks and whites and others coexisted harmoniously as equals. After all, in school, just a few days before, we discussed the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of which states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The tenderness of my years had not exposed me to the “real world” where people were judged on the color of their skin rather than by the content of their character. My naïveté was largely due to my Dad’s telling me that a man’s skin color didn’t tell you anything about a man, a concept he still holds true. My purpose is not to speak of my age, or my upbringing.

My purpose is to speak of where we are today, as a people and what lies ahead. Yes, things are much improved since Dr. King delivered those famous words while standing on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. But we still don’t live in an America where all people coexist as Dr. King envisioned. Sadly, there is still much more to do.

The task ahead won’t be accomplished with federal programs and legislation. It won’t be delivered by court rulings. We have yet to fully embrace the concepts of freedom and individual and civil liberties that each of us inherits directly from our Creator. Understanding the concepts of freedom and liberty is vital to breaking free of collectivist thought and deed. The required effort must come from within each individual. Treating others as we would like to be treated is not just a Christian principle… it is a moral principle.

As we celebrate the holiday honoring Dr. Marin Luther King Jr., let’s remember that although we may not have the same skin color or the same ethnic or religious background, we are similar in many ways. We all have hopes and dreams of a better world for our children and grandchildren. Take a few moments to reflect on the life of this great man and the truths he held dear to his heart. He did not die in vain. His name is remembered. His life is still celebrated. His voice is still heard. His message is still calling us to make his dream come true.

“Let freedom ring!”
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