Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Greatest American Moment in American History

I'm a firmly middle-aged white woman living in southern California, born fifty years and one day ago, the one day, today, that the great Martin Luther King stood up in front of the Lincoln Memorial and let loose one of, if not the most, amazing speeches in the history of my country. I listened to the speech today while I folded clothes warm from the laundry. The hair on my white arms rose, tears pricked at my eyes, I wondered again at the preternatural magic that man possessed, how he wove history, the present and the future into words -- that glorious cadence of his oratory. As sabers rattle and metal machines lie in wait to drop bombs, yet again, in desolate places across the globe, I wonder, too, whether the words he spoke of, that dream, will ever be realized fully, whether the principles of nonviolence will ever take utterly and completely. I know better. They will not. But I know that I will take those principles into my own heart and teach them to my children and hope that by so doing we will be that many more added to the peacemakers.

Here's the speech:

And here's an excellent article for those of you, like me, who struggle with so-called patriotism and honoring soldiers and killing and dying for liberty. 

It's also for those of you who don't understand people like me.

No, thanks: Stop saying "support the troops."


  1. Two such diverse topics and yet, of course, not really.
    I can't "support our troops" either. It is everything that author says and it is more. And it is probably less. I have no idea what patriotism is supposed to be about. It doesn't register with my soul.
    Dr. King, however, was a citizen not just of this country but of the world. He was speaking out for repressed people all over the world and this was discussed today in various speeches at the Anniversary March. He was a visionary, he was a prophet. His ideals are well worth considering and applying. HIs vision was one of beauty and courage. This I can believe I can believe in. This I can honor.

  2. I'd like to think that it's possible that one day those words will come true...

  3. I believe that the most important thing we can all do is live by the ideals he spoke of and teach them to our children and others who will listen. I hate that we are again in this place of meeting violence with violence and cherry-picking Dr. King's words to highlight those we think fit the occasion ("I have a dream"), all the while discarding the pieces that speak to exactly the kind of person he was -- in a word, nonviolent. Somehow, in this quest for bombs and righteousness, we seem to forget the part where he said, "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

  4. I'd like to support our troops, all the way home where they belong, safe and sound with no more risk of maiming and head trauma. I was 10 when Dr. King gave that speech, it was an amazing thing to see. I wish people could get past the idea of race and nationalism. I wish women could have equal rights with men. I wish a lot of things, but I don't think I'll live long enough for them to happen.
    Happy birthday.

  5. Happy belated birthday. It would seem that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi shared the same dream. Both killed by assassins. We are a violent species but I hope, I always hope. I pray for peace.

  6. I think the only thing that keeps humanity from tipping into completely madness is people like Dr. King, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, spiritual leaders who sow the seeds of love and compassion and stand up for the underdogs of the whole. They have by whole-hearted admiration and their dreams keep this old gal afloat.

  7. I don't know if I've ever listened to it from beginning to end like was spine-tingling. Since I'm taking a public-speaking class, I listened to it for content, as well as for delivery, and WOW. He had such conviction, good references to history, perfect pacing, calm yet great passion, authority and connection with his audience. When I think of all the progress since he shared his dream, yet all that still needs to change, I see that his message is beyond time. It is a call to what is highest in all of us.

  8. Thank you for this tribute to MLK. Some of the most moving speeches to me often come from individuals who write from the heart, combining deep intelligence with an even deeper sense of humanity. To me MLK, embraced the spirit, that which connects us all. I have this speech tacked up on my wall. It is starting to yellow over the years but even so, I never tire of reading it.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...