If we here in the Land of the Red, White and Blue Round Doorknobs can't make it a three day holiday, we may not observe it at all. But observe this one we shall even though the actual 86th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a day last week. Dr. King never saw his 40th birthday.
James Earl Ray made sure Dr. King would never have to blow out all those candles by murdering him nearly forty-seven years ago. You've read (I hope) in history class in school about the deaths of American icons JFK, Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, I was alive for all three and lack the words to tell you what we were like as a nation before their passings but I assure you we are better people because they lived.
I was a high school sophomore, a pimply too-loud white preppie kid, wandering around Washington D. C. on a school trip my father organized through the middle of Resurrection City, just weeks after Dr. King's assassination.
I was stunned at the scale and scope of the settlement, the audacity and the eloquence of the vision that propelled and compelled it into existence and the pervasiveness of the poverty and despair that made it inevitable and necessary. Reinventing American society so that the reasons why it had to be would became history and aren't part of our present or future, is a part of the legacy of Dr. King.
Today across the country there are ceremonies and commemorations. Ours here in Norwich at City Hall starts at a quarter of two this afternoon with some speeching, a little preaching (I suspect, having attended this every year for quite some time) as well as singing followed by a march to a local church for warming words on what is usually a typical New England winter's day and then we'll all go home, back to the lives we lead and the people we are.
I hope this year, unlike any other before it, across this country, we can seize a moment from whatever we do today to celebrate the dream of Dr. King, make it our own and keep it on our hearts. And then, beginning tomorrow for all the days that remain, use it as a fulcrum, as he did, to change the world. Again.