There are times when we as a nation pause to reflect on significant events. Some, like Independence Day, unite us around a monumental accomplishment and serve as a focus of collective pride. Others, like September 11th, stir deep emotions of loss and determination to press ahead and persevere.
Like viewing our reflection in a mirror, the way we commemorate significant events and the people who have shaped this country, not only remind us of where we have been, they help us to understand who we are. For example, Monday will mark the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the nation will pause to reflect on the significance of his life.
This Martin Luther King Day will stand out in part because this year is the 50thanniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Speeches will be made, parades held, and songs sung to remember a man who became a symbol of peaceful resistance and then lost his life as the result of a terrible act of violence.
The annual MLK Commemoration is an opportunity for our nation to look into the mirror of an extraordinary life, a tragic moment, and a legacy that continues to impact generations of Americans. It is an opportunity to not just asses who we are, but who we strive to become. As Frederick Douglas once said, “A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.”