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Martin Luther King, Jr. (1.17.24)

This past week we celebrated what would have been Dr. Martin L. King’s, Jr. 95th Birthday if he would have lived.  Over the past few years, the Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Holiday was normally the 3rd weekend of the month; this year it came early and caught some off guard on the 2nd weekend of the month.  The good news is many in the Ohio Valley did get to participate even with the very cold weather.  The majority of the programs went on in the bitter cold with great success. Successful programs took place in Steubenville, Ohio, Weirton, Wheeling, WV, and several other places.  Programs took place all over the nation, honoring this great holiday. 

One of the unique things that took place at the Wheeling, WV celebration was they honored all the African-Americans who were over 80 years old.  These are the ones who saw things before the Civil Rights Movement, they saw life before the marches, the sit-ins, the “I have a Dream” speeches, Bus Boycotts, and so many other non-violent direct actions that brought so many changes.  They may be the last generation that understand personally what changes really took place.

This present generation does not totally understand all the changes that took place, in the same way they do not understand totally what Christopher Columbus saw or felt when he discovered America. ( I know there’s a controversy about who discovered America.)  In a way that is a good thing, they don’t have to deal with the pain of the past.  I was blessed to read to an elementary class that the majority of the class had never heard of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.   For them it will be just another character in history.  This is why it is so sad, that there are so many efforts to wipe this history from our history books.

No wonder George Santayana a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist born December 16, 1863 in Madrid, Spain who died September 26, 1952 in Rome, Italy in a writing entitled “Reason in Common Sense” in 1905 once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Later on, Sir Winston Churchill born November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965, a British Statesmen, soldier, writer, and a two term Prime Minister of England, (not back-to-back) serving during World War II once said in a speech in the British parliament in 1948, added this to the quote from George Santayana and said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  I believe there is some truth in both statements, and know that we can take our history and build a better world, or ignore our history and make an inferior world.    

Christopher Columbus kept tow records of the distances traveled on his first voyage to the New World in the Santa Maria.  One was true, he thought, but he deliberately faked the other.  Ironically, the fake log turned out to be the more accurate of the two.

 To alleviate his crew’s fears that they were getting too far from home on an unknown sea, Columbus gave them a reduced mileage estimate.  When, for example, he told them on Sept. 11, 1492, that they had covered 16 leagues, he recorded 20 leagues in his secret log.  Though he didn’t know it, Columbus’ “true” distance records were overestimated by 9% on the average.  His faked distances came out closer to the actual distances traveled.

The problem lay in the inaccuracy of the 15th-century navigation.  No one at that time could measure east-west distance accurately at sea, partly because timepieces (sandglasses) were affected by the motions of a ship upon the waves.  Speed had to be guessed at—usually by watching things float by.  Columbus, like most navigators, was forced to use dead reckoning, which involves laying out a compass course and estimating the distance traveled on a chart.  He happened to be very good at it, but there was much room for error.

     When the crew found out about his deception, they threatened mutiny.  Before they did, however, land—and a New World—appeared!


     I am concerned that there are a number of people who have two logs for their ship of life.  A log that has no prejudice, no discrimination, no mistreatment of others who are different than them, and the true log is buried in deception of themselves and others.  This week, we celebrate the birthday and the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was born at noon Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home in Atlanta, Georgia.  It became his mission to make us look at the real log of life with all the imperfections of life.  I regret that no one has to convince me personally that prejudice is alive and well.


 No wonder Dr. King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  On another occasion he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Once he said, “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” Also, “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”  So, he concluded by saying, “I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great of a burden to bear.”


Let me close by using a few more of Dr. King’s statements.  “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor polite, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”  Congratulations to all the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Award winners, rather local, state or national. Keep making a difference in this world.