I bought this illustration of Dr. Martin Luther King for myself a Christmas gift this year. It was done by an artist from Port Townsend and will hang in my office to remind me daily of the value of language to inspire and the gift that service has brought to my life.
I spent my childhood in Washington, DC. My parents were progressive Catholics who held civil rights for all as a core belief. We were a family of six children then (a seventh was added in the 70’s) and dinner time was spent around a huge table having discussions about politics, music, and society. Those meals could last hours and the discussions were often beyond my understanding, but always passionate and loud. They certainly left an impression.
I was nine when Dr. King was assassinated. The city erupted in turmoil and it was both scary and so very sad. His death sparked a desire in me to be of service in this life. I am not sure what that meant to me that at the time, but eventually it became clear. I am committed to living and working in ways that help others. I attribute my 20 years as a volunteer EMT in part to Dr. King’s inspiration, as is the work of the Community Foundation, striving to make Orcas a more resilient and just community for all who live here.
At a time when our National politics have gone off the rails and snarky tweets replace skilled oration, I am grateful for those who use their voices to build bridges and seed the vision of promise. We can all use a little more inspiration in our lives.
Thank you, Dr. King.
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.
–Dr. King February 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in speaking about how he wished to be remembered after his death.