Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the states. It's a holiday and the idea is that you'll use this day off (if you indeed have it off) to volunteer and do something for others.
I have to admit: since childhood, MLKjr has been one of my heros. Without 2 of my primary school teachers, that might not have been the case. But now, 22 years since having those teachers, I still can remember and hearing Dr. King's voice still brings chills.
Part of 5th grade (I was 10) in Mrs. Churchwell's class meant the memorization of key things in American History. Up until this point, I dont remember too much of history being taught in primary school, but in this grade alone I memorized (and still remember) the Declaration of Rights (from the Declaration of Independence), the Preamble to the Constitution, and Martin Luther King, Jr's speech I Have a Dream. Even now, his haunting words are something that I know I'll never forget and they speak of a world that I want my children to live in.
(You can read his entire speech here, although I highly recommend that you take the time to really hear it. There is nothing like watching the old black and white footage of him speaking.)
Yesterday, Bobby asked me if we could make cupcakes. I told him yes, but that we would make them tomorrow, in honor of a very special man who wanted to make the world a better place by loving others and by not hurting people.
"St. Francis?" Peter inquired.
"Martin Luther King, Jr." I answered. He smiled, probably wondering why our 3 year old deserved a history lesson when all the poor kid wanted was cupcakes.
We made the cupcakes this morning (a nice mingle of vanilla cake with chocolate frosting) and I talked a little bit about MLKjr while we did so. Was he a saint? No. He had extramarital affairs and even plagurized part of his doctoral thesis. Was he a hero? I'd say yes. Human though he was with plenty of human errors (just like the rest of us), he believed in love and peace and he never gave up the hope that one day, regardless of the colors of our skin, we could live together in harmony. He saw a world where my children are just children- not olive skinned or pale skinned, not brown eyed or blue, not typical or atypical but just people perfect by their humanity-, a world where they could love without bounds and dream without reason.
Every day, we need that message. Today, some times we need it more than ever.