On April 3, 1968, a great American made a historic speech in Memphis, Tenn. The next night another great American also made a historic speech.
The minds and hearts of both men were focused simply on making our country a better experience for each and every American. Neither man was perfect; yet, the Bible shows us over and over again God doesn’t call those without fault to carry out His will, but rather He chooses those whose hearts are set squarely on the servant-hood of others.
Sadly, it was the last speech Martin Luther King Jr. would ever make. We all know how the last part of his hourlong sermon goes, but I also like this excerpt from it, “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.”
Then the prophetic ending, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place.
“But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
The next night, at a campaign rally in Indianapolis, Sen. Robert Kennedy delivered an unrehearsed speech to announce King’s death to the crowd.
He wraps it up as passionately as King had done the night before, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be Black.
“So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
“We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
“But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of Black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”
A mere two months later Robert Kennedy was senselessly gunned down, just as his brother had been five years earlier.
Two great young men (one just 39 years old, the other only 42) committed to doing all they could to help lead our nation out of a deeply sick and disturbing darkness.
Sadly, both were rewarded by being assassinated for their effort and concern.
There are people today that do nothing more than take to social media daily ranting and raving about their fellow citizens and they, and others, have the gall to refer to themselves as “patriots.” They’ve sacrificed NOTHING! They don’t seem to even grasp the concept of true patriotism.
Let us NEVER forget or ever get to a place where we under appreciate the sacrifices made by so many true patriots on our behalf as a nation. I hate to think where we would be today without them.