We celebrate the life and legacy of a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Baptist preacher, civil rights activist, iconic healer, leader of the nonviolent movement in civil disobedience, a true visionary, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1968), recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977, posthumous), and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (2004, posthumous).
In a sermon delivered shortly before his assassination in April of 1968, Dr. King told the congregation that after his death, he hoped people would remember that he fought peacefully for justice for all men and women:
“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 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. And I want you to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. 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.”
Let us remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dedication to the service of others. As we serve the Veterans who have served our Nation, let us walk in his footsteps to the better tomorrows he saw so clearly in his dreams.
Eric K. Shinseki,
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs