“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today we observe, celebrate and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While doing so, I couldn’t help but to think of a recent trip I took to Washington DC with my family. Let me just say that it was quite amazing to experience this visit to our nation’s capitol through the eyes of young (more specifically, my 8-year-old son). Of course we did the standard tour to the Capitol Building, Air and Space Museum, and the American History Museum. However, there was one particular place I truly wanted to experience with him.
On the last day, my son and I took an hour walk from our hotel to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, we stopped to pay our respects at a few of the war memorials–which I loved because it opened the door for history lessons about World War II and Vietnam, and how those help to shape our country. Then we arrived … our main destination … the Lincoln Memorial, it was just as I remembered it when I was younger and visiting the Capitol … grand and breath taking. We climbed the stairs to the top and stood in awe. And there it was, in front of us, a giant Abraham Lincoln sitting in his chair, as if he continues to overlook and approve the direction of our country. We both commented on how life-like Lincoln looked, and at any moment, he could rise and be president again.
After reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address aloud, we made our way to the steps once more to view the reflecting pool–then, I saw it, the circle where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood to make his “I HAVE A DREAM” speech. Knowing the importance of this moment, I couldn’t just tell him what it was like, I had to do something more … so, I reached in my pocket (so glad to be in the technology age!), took my phone out, and played the video from that great speech. As Dr. King spoke, my son and I looked out, right where he delivered those passionate words, and tried our best to visualize the multitude of people embracing his message. We too, stood there, letting his voice sink in our hearts and mind, imagining what it would be like to hear it for the first time.
After we finished watching the historic video, I could see my son was having a “wow” moment. Being only 8, he asked the simple question: “why would people not like other people based on race?” My son values friendship on one criterion: Are you a nice person? I like that thinking–and told him to stick with that philosophy.
We then had a conversation about the power of speech–and how it can change people, nations, and the world. On August 28th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made history–and almost 50 years later, it still sends chills down your spine–and continues to impact new generations (as it did my son).
The power of speech. It can create awareness, change, love, unity, support, opposition, peace–it can bring out the best in us. We must always be that. Thank you, Dr. King.