In honor of Martin Luther King: A Memorial

Alyssa Stencavage, Staff Writer

I was recently lucky enough to be able to attend the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C., more specifically located at West Potomac Park on Sunday, October 16, 2011.  Being able to witness this first in person was truly amazing, it was quite the experience.  It didn’t take long before everything was up and running, and the day was ready to begin.

Speaker after speaker filled the stage, and spoke truly inspiring words that came straight from the heart.  It was obvious that everyone in attendance felt very proud and honored to be there.  Ronald Martin introduced the event, and among those who spoke were remarkable civil rights icons such as Representative John Lewis, Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson as well as the Bidens and, of course President Obama.

King’s children, Martin Luther King III and Reverend Bernice King, as well as King’s only surviving sibling, Christine King Farris, also addressed the event attendees.  Together, they tied many of his ideals and beliefs into modern day situations of inequality.  Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others gave a special performance immediately following the event.

“Look at the faces here around you,” Obama said.  “You see an America that is more fair, and more free and more just than the one Dr. King addressed that day.  We are right to savor that slow but certain progress.” Obama also urged, “I know we will overcome.  I know this, the president said, “because of the man towering over us.”

“I didn’t think my brother’s legacy could get much larger,” King’s 84-year-old sister Farris shared, reminiscing  about the day when King received his own national holiday in 1983. “But I was wrong. Here I am witnessing my brother’s symbolic place on the national mall near America’s greatest presidents. Let this wonderful day mark another step toward the fulfillment of the dream.”

It is evident that many people had strong feelings to share at this ceremony.  Many different emotions were aroused such as pride, joy, freedom, and maybe even some sadness, but that doesn’t stop us from continuing to fight for the justice that Mr. King sought. Many of the remarkable speeches at this event were extraordinarily eye-opening.

I can definitely say that I found the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial a worthwhile experience and I am glad I was able to be there to see it for myself.  This experience made me appreciate the rights and freedom I have as an American citizen.  Everyone, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity, has those same unconditional rights to be free and live the lives they wish.

Although I was not around during his day, his legacy still lives on and is as relevant today as before, especially because of the diversity on many college campuses.  His strong ideals, ongoing fight for justice and relentless perseverance made him one of the most important figures of his day and he will continue to be remembered as a shining prophet of the American Dream for generations to come.