I'm never sure if it's proper to wish another person a happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday or not, but if so, I wish you one and I wish he could have had a few more himself.
Few people in my lifetime have shaped circumstances and events as much as he--the election and then murder of John Kennedy, the murder of Robert Kennedy, the arrival of The Beatles (don't shake your head, what they did was reorder the universe) and, of course, the extraordinary life, lessons and death of Dr. King.
America could not possibly have been here now, in this place and time, if not for those (of all races and creeds) who struggled to set us on a better and bigger and more inclusive course 'back then'.
Today, as we observe Dr. King's birthday, I hope we remember all of those forced, to ride in the backs of buses, to drink from separate water fountains, to eat elsewhere in luncheonettes (and a hundred thousand other inhuman indignities from fire hoses, billy clubs and attack dogs to caustic, cutting remarks through flaming crosses and burned out churches) who helped us to be here.
It's important, I think, that we don't allow the passage of years to dim the memory of Dr. King's life and work. Those were dangerous times in which he (and we) lived and if you arrived on the planet after he was murdered, when you look at American history of that era it's hard to believe we were those people.
But, and here's my glass half-full guy typing now, we've gotten from that place to here. There's a long road ahead of us, all of us, and these are not the easiest of times in which to continue our travels, but we can, because we have.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Across the country today, there are nearly countless observances of Dr. King's life. I hope you have the time to partake and take part in one or more.
I hope to have to have the opportunity to join the others who will assemble in front of Norwich City Hall in the shadow of the Freedom Bell at David Ruggles Courtyard at one thirty to share a celebration of the life that was, and be saddened, briefly, for the life that is no more.
It's a short march after some remarks from City Hall around the corner to the Evans Memorial AME Zion Church at 2 McKinley Avenue. Join us if you can in person or in spirit. And afterwards when each of us then returns to the world we have created, why not try a little harder, a little longer and, if necessary, a little louder to not just make a difference, but to be the difference.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."