Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life in the struggle against prejudice and for equality; against hatred and for brotherhood; against division and for non-violence. He offered us a message of peace, and inspired us to respect our neighbors not as members of a given race, but as fellow human beings. His mission was to ‘end the long night of racial injustice;’ his dream a vision of common purpose and common humanity.
This year, in Washington, we will finally unveil the magnificent Martin Luther King memorial. In doing so, Dr. King will take his rightful place in the pantheon of national heroes honored on our National Mall, standing on the axis between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. It will be a great day when Dr. King stands among our greatest Presidents as a symbol of justice and equality – our nation’s heritage and our hope.
Every year, Martin Luther King Day offers our nation a time for service and for reflection. As we mark this day, we reflect upon the tragedy in Arizona; we continue to pray for the recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, those injured; and we offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims of this terrible incident. In this time of anguish, let us seek a renewed commitment to the causes championed by Dr. King and embodied by the work of Congresswoman Giffords: hope, civility, and peace among the American people.