I loved the speech that Martin Luther King gave..."I Have a Dream". Unfortunately he did not live to see his dream come true.
I was in 8th grade when he died and the day I came back to school from my own mother's funeral, our Social Studies teacher decided we needed to watch the coverage of Martin Luther King's funeral for historical value. And back then, kids were truly interested in the world around them and watching MLK's funeral brought not only tears from his tragic death from students and our teachers, but a blatant reminder that we had in our young lives been through another assassination-that of our President-in November 1963.
I remember truly being scared of who would be killed next.
It started with my best friend Alexis's brother dying in Viet Nam when we were in 6th grade. I will never forget the principal coming to our classroom during Science class when Alexis and I were frantically studying for a test on how to fly an airplane(our Science teacher thought she was being innovative...we could have cared less if the flaps were supposed to be down or up during takeoff or landing of the plane)and since National Junior High Honor Society candidates were being chosen the next week, we really wanted to get a high grade on this test. The principal came over to our desks, bent down and asked Alexis if she would come with him to the office because her parents wanted to talk to her. He took her hand and led her away and about 15 minutes later, she came back, picked up her books and told me, "I have to go home. My brother was killed in Viet Nam." The principal later had an assembly in the gym to tell us about Phillip's death and try to answer our many, many questions of WHY?
Alexis came back to school 2 weeks later and acted different. I didn't understand why. She didn't want to be my friend anymore. Instead, she started defying our teachers, not doing homework and eventually she left school and I never saw her again. I know now that she was just trying to protect herself from being hurt anymore and didn't want to let anyone get close to her because they, too, might be "taken away" like Phillip was from her life.
After that came deaths of grandparents and parents friends and even my own mother, but in looking back, I think that Phillip's death hurt me most of all because not only did he lose his life, but I lost my best friend.
As I watched MLK's funeral, I thought of his kids and how they were now without a father much in the same way that I was without a mother. Both of our losses had been totally unexpected and sudden and there were no chances for saying "good-bye" or "I love you" on either of our parts. I felt conected to the King children that day.
Which was why when my teacher came up to me and asked if I was OK when he saw the tears falling from my eyes that I hadn't even noticed, I just told him that I was helping the King children cry for the loss of their father...
I have a dream, too, that cancer should be cured, no more soldiers should die and no one should be without food or shelter. Parents should not bury their children, all should have medical insurance coverage and the elderly should not have to choose between buying food and buying medicine.
It's not a perfect world out there, but we just have to keep on keepin' on.
MLK would want that.
Rest in peace, my brother.
Rest in peace, MLK.
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