April 4, 1968 was a tragic day for America and the world. We lost a visionary leader whose conviction that all men and women are created equal, be brought to fruition in our time. Today I will not mourn, but celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.
Although we have come a long way in remedying the social injustices of our country's history, we must continue to be engaged in a dialogue of racial and economic equality, and for the peace that Dr. King gave his life for. He fought for peace here in America, and he fought for peace for all around the world.
America is currently engaged in war that has taken the lives of over 4000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi's. The uncanny similarities that the war in Iraq has with the Vietnam War must lead us to adhere to Dr. King's message of non-violence. Dr. King spoke out against the Vietnam War even when his colleagues questioned his wisdom.
On April 4, 1967, a year to the day of his death, Dr. King addressed his colleagues at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at the Riverside Church in New York City. His speech that day was entitled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." His message was poignant then, and speaks directly to us today.
Dr. King stated, "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
In order for us to continue Dr. King's legacy of peace and justice, we must take a stand to end the illegal and unjust war in Iraq. Today I reaffirm my commitment to ending this war and continuing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.