There are 10 annual Federal holidays, as designated by our US Congress, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the most recent addition. But more than being the last designated, it provides a holiday unique amongst all the Federal holidays in the United States, and this is why Advanced Pediatrics is taking this moment to honor the holiday and wish everyone a Happy MLK Day.
Some of our Federal holidays honor days that commemorate a series of historically valued moments, such as New Years Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The rest honor three people: George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take a look at the only 3 people honored in our nation by designation of a Federal holiday. The first in historical order was the man who brought Europe to America, Columbus. The second was the man who led our first government, Washington. Only one of the three attempted to make the country just, Martin Luther King, Jr. If the voyages of exploration from Europe had never happened, there would have been no nation founded by Europeans in North America. If the United States had never come into being, there would have been no nation to make just.
And so Martin Luther King, Jr. represents all those who found themselves in this amazing nation of ours and asked, now that we find it as it is, how do we take it and help it reach the promises made in our Declaration of Independence?
We are used to the notion that nations are no longer ruled by a sole king or queen, but in 1776 essentially all nations were so ruled. The founding of our nation opened the door to a new idea, and it was our Civil War that gave our nation what Lincoln called our new Birth of Freedom. It was that new Birth of Freedom that led Lincoln to create two of our Federal Holidays, Memorial Day to honor the dead of the Civil War, and Thanksgiving, to bring the nation together to celebrate its early days.
But the promise of our new Birth of Freedom was betrayed by the nearly 100 years of Jim Crow. After the Civil War, it would take the Civil Rights Movement, with leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., to make the Civil War amendments to our Constitution, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, closer to being actually our reality.
The celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day goes further than commemorating the 100 year struggle to have the victories of the Civil War finally realized. It also celebrates the vision of Reverend Doctor King, a vision that speaks to every person of our American community, after all justice cannot occur unless the oppressor joins the oppressed in making our nation just. And making our nation just benefits not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well.
This is the spirit in which I understand, and am moved by the words of Dr. King:
- Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
- I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
And so, on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we at Advanced Pediatrics take a moment to honor a great man who embodied the greatest ideals of the best of America as well as any American. We honor the man, and join everyone in hoping one day our nation will achieve the ideals that we were founded to make real.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin