For starters, I must beg the forgiveness of the CLC community. Though I have many thoughts, ideas, information and experiences to share with you, it’s been several weeks since my last blog post. While I am making good on most of my New Year’s Resolutions, I should probably add to the list: Commit to blogging at least weekly! So noted.
It’s been a lovely long weekend. As per usual, my favorite part has been spending time with my family. The import of the calendar specifics, however, is far grander than an extra-long weekend. Today, in particular, marks an important one in the United States – and in many places around the world that share our country’s values.
Three BIG occasions occur simultaneously today:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Commemorating the birthday of the greatest civil rights leader of our time, MLK Day honors freedom and the notion that all humans are created equally. Our family marked the day as we do every year – by reading excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches as told through the well-appointed, Martin’s Big Words, written for children by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Twice the book tells of how Dr. King connected with other people – of all colors and backgrounds – saying, “Martin walked with them and talked with them and sang with them and prayed with them.” If that’s not networking, then I don’t know what is. We should all aspire to do a little walking and talking and singing and praying with one another. We should all aspire to connect with others. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together.”
- National Day of Service: In conjunction with MLK Day, today has been declared the National Day of Service. Americans are encouraged to celebrate the day by giving of themselves to their community. This year, our family volunteered together at a local food pantry managed by Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City. We sorted food and organized shelves and it felt great. Plus, as I have suggested before, there is no better way for others to see you in action than through your volunteer efforts! The generous gift of your time and talent will, no doubt, catch the eye of others with whom you wish to interact.
- Presidential Inauguration: Though this occasion is scheduled to happen only once every four years, remarkably, the 57th inauguration of a U.S. President – the 44th U.S. President and the first African American to be elected President (though, for a second term), took place today on MLK Day and our National Day of Service. Whatever anyone’s politics, there was no denying that today felt very patriotic – an opportunity for all of us to come together to rejoice in our principles, in our ideals, in our values as Americans. Personally, I watched the proceedings, start to finish, eagerly taking in everything from what the First Lady was wearing along with her new hairdo to the presence of our elected officials from both sides of the aisle to the wonderful performances by the likes of Beyoncé, James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson to the inspiring swearing in of the President and Vice President to the important remarks by President Obama.
What follows is a short excerpt from the President’s speech this afternoon which I believe ties these today’s three BIG events together:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing.
Without getting too esoteric, I invite you to join me. Join me by welcoming others into your life – others from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Join me by taking action – by being generous with your time, information and resources; by involving yourself in your community; by showing others what you’re made of. Join me by paying homage to our history while charging steadfastly forward to create a bright future for all of us. It’s up to you and me. Let’s get started.