The National Park Service commemoration of the life and service of Martin Luther King, Jr., served the nation well. The care and maintenance of the King Memorial reflects the excellent customer service that NPS provides to the nation. The American memorials have sacred meaning to those who love their country and the men and women who have made contributions and service to make America the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
If ever there was a time to survey the depths of the love and faithfulness shown by the followers of King and the devotees of his nonviolent philosophy, it was evident all day Monday January 20, 2016. In the 30 years since the great President Ronald Reagan answered the prayers and pleas of millions of Americans and gave 300 million Americans a day off from labor to remember King and his nonviolent movement the celebration on January 20, 2016, was a 30th anniversary remembrance with tremendous joy.
It was on January 20, 1986, at 9:00 am at the American Embassy in Bamako, Mali, West Africa, where the official American staff joined with the Malian community to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his first national holiday celebration. As a Professor of English at the largest college in Mali, it was a great honor to be asked to represent America at that first King National Holiday.
The monologue before the heads of state of Mali and the Ambassador to the United States of America was recorded and remains a treasured remembrance. At six hours ahead of the time America woke up, the monologue would be part of the the first official program to honor the new holiday.
The temperature in Washington was 22 degrees with a brutally cold wind for the 30th celebration. The temperature in Bamako, Mali, West Africa in 1986 was 70 degrees. The monologue in Mali in 1986 asked for Malians to remember that to become a great nation violence had to be eliminated. The peaceful existence experienced in Mali was shattered when Islamic Terrorists used violence and hatred to kill an American in 2015. This was in violation of the peaceful and nonviolent movement taught by King.
King asked his followers to promise to never use violence. And though he was mocked by militants and the followers of Malcolm X, King never retreated from his nonviolent philosophy. His message of hope and peace reverberated throughout the King Memorial as one visitor after the other told the journalist that they would never break their promise to be nonviolent. A teacher from West Africa came to the commemoration on January 20, 2016. She, too, loved King’s message of nonviolence. He took many blows to his head and body and never responded with violence before the final shot took his life on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39.
However, even in death, King had asked his followers the night before he was murdered, not to retaliate with violence if he were to be killed. Although many people used his murder as an excuse to use violence and to burn cities, his true believers moved to Atlanta to be near his message and never used violence in honor of his life and service. Never break a promise. The promise to never use violence is sacred.
There were many touching scenes at the memorial. A black man held his white wife and their child as both respectfully gazed up at King. The very sight could have caused violence against them when King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955. Yet, as Americans of every race, creed, and color assembled around the couple no one saw skin color. They saw two people in love. “I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor’s having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said over 50 years ago.
Make 2016 a year without violence. “You cannot change some people. You must avoid people who use violence, profanity, and drugs,” said Mrs. James Metze, Sr. The words of a 40 year public school teacher and follower of the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Great advice and a great lesson learned.
Every school year children should be given a monologue in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. The yearly lesson will give them an understanding of why it is important to honor King and never forget the reason he gave his life for his nation.