The Times West Virginian

Opinion

January 18, 2013

Follow King’s message and work together for common goal

There are few people who speak so eloquently and whose words hold such power that they can inspire millions.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of those people.

Even now, almost 45 years after his death, King’s words are still recited in speeches. They are posted on signs and inscribed on memorials.

His “I Have a Dream” speech is cited by many as the defining moment of the civil rights movement. And who better to speak those words than King, who was a civil rights leader.

King certainly left an impressive legacy. More than 700 cities have a street named after him, and many schools also bear his name. Statues and memorial gardens are prominent in communi­ties across the country, and then-President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation in 1983 creating a federal holiday in King’s honor.

Maybe that’s why we cherish his words so much, words like “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” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead and the unborn could do it no better.”

It was also King who said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

That’s an important thing to consider in the days ahead.

Monday marks the annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it’s a day when people across the country come together to serve their neighbors and communities.

We’re sure that will be happening here. Residents in Marion County are among the most selfless in the state, and their concern and generosity for their neighbors never cease to amaze us.

Need examples? There are plenty.

Marion Countians annually contribute thousands of dollars to fundraisers organized by groups like the United Way and the American Cancer Society. They answer the call when natural disasters strike, offering monetary donations or perhaps even shelter to those displaced by the storm. They donate food and supplies to people in need.

Maybe those good deeds are rooted in King’s message. Maybe they’re simply heeding his words: “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

We hope local citizens use this weekend as a chance to again work together for a common goal, which falls in line with what King worked toward throughout his life.

It will be another reminder of King’s legacy, one we hope continues to grow stronger over the years and decades to come.

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