It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. day. A national holiday, which meant I had the day off. Some of my friends were jealous that they had to work, and I can’t say I blame them. It’s great to have national holidays off.
It’s gotten me thinking, though, of how many people really know much about our holidays and what their intended purposes were. For a lot of people, it becomes just another day off of work. But today’s holiday is in remembrance of a man who dedicated his life in hopes of making life better for a nation. If you look him up on the internet, you’ll find all sorts of information about him, probably the highlights that most of us enjoying the day off of work know. About how he was a pastor. And how he was the Leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African-American civil rights organization. About how he won the Nobel Peace prize for his nonviolent protests. About his I Have a Dream speech. About his assassination. He was a man of significance in our American history, so we honor him on a day in January that comes close to his birthday of January 15th.
But I wonder how many of us remember that he was only 39 when he died. A young man. Younger than I am today. He left behind four children whom he referenced in his famous speech: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. He left behind a wife who, regardless of the controversy surrounding their marriage, had to raise those four children without their father. He spent most of his adult life fighting for the causes he so passionately believed in because he was convinced it was best for his family and his country. And he was arrested almost 20 times and assaulted numerous times in the process. What a life. Not the kind of life that I’ve chosen for myself, and not the kind of life that most of the people I know would choose. Not because we don’t have the desire to make the world a better place, but because it takes something heroic to put your whole life on the line. Thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr. for being one of those people. I’m grateful today that we have such people in the world, paving the way for the rest of us.