The legacy, life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., are celebrated each January. Like most federal holidays, the day set aside for its celebration is always on a Monday. In 1983 the late President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law, making King Day a nationally celebrated holiday. The purpose of that Rose Garden bill was not realized until three years later, when Dr. King's birthday was first celebrated on a national level. The date was January 20, 1986.
There is evidence that the 1983 bill declaring the federal celebration has yet to be fully realized. It is a federally recognized holiday that has the unfortunate reputation as only an African American holiday. Banks and government offices are closed for the day and pockets of celebrations and speeches take center stage, but is Dr. Martin Luther King celebrated as an American hero? Is the Civil Rights leader celebrated as a champion only for the rights of African Americans? Arguably, the latter is true. King Day is similarly celebrated in the way most people observe Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur in this country. The nation takes a day off, but it is really not the nation's day.
The suggestion is not that the country stop and pay homage on King Day, light birthday candles, or spend the day in prayer and reflection. The challenge is to remember Dr. King as a man who affected a positive change for America as a whole. Standing before the Lincoln Memorial on that incredible summer day in 1963, Dr. King expounded upon a dream that was not exclusive to African Americans.
Dr. King spurred our country on to further greatness, prodding the United States to live up to its name and stand "united”. By the grace of God, the Civil Rights leader took an 'indivisible' yet divided nation by the shoulders and shook it! He took on the nation's leaders demanding they enforce what the founders penned in the Constitution. Believing in the God ordained equality of all men, that all men had "inalienable rights", Dr. King nudged the country closer to living profoundly as ‘one nation under God’. More than a mere champion for people of color, Dr. Martin Luther King is an American hero who challenged a "government for the people and by the people" to 'walk the talk'- and we are better for it.