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As Long as We Remember...

November 21, 2006

Honor and The Struggle

Derek Shackelford

As we get older we look back and see if we have lived with any regrets. As we come into a deeper understanding, we take inventory of what we have learned and how we can maximize our time on earth.

And since as humans we are limited by time and space, this means we cannot be every place at every time. In fact, there are some places that we wish we could be, but because obligations and schedule conflicts arise it is impossible to be at some venues.

There are some things in life; I just wish that I could attend just for the experience. It is sometimes in these places that we gain a deeper appreciation for life and the understanding of what is needed to take us forward. There has got to be more to life than work, making money, and hearing discouraging news.

This is why I wanted to attend the ground breaking ceremony for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial on the mall in Washington. Scheduling conflicts did not allow me to attend; but I feel like had missed something special.

The reality is that I am a benefactor of the civil rights movement that started during the 1950's and 1960's. It would be foolish of me to say that it is over because all we have to do is take a concrete look at our lives and see that the struggle continues.

Some may say that the fight is over, but looking at our current world structure and we see that it continues. Poverty, hatred, war, AIDS, racism, and sexism; these are just a few of our societal ills.

The King Memorial will be placed between those of Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. It will be the first dedicated to an African American.

It is a fitting tribute to an individual who lived courageously and stood with dignity. Sometimes it is the little things in life that make the most difference. All Dr. King wanted to be was a good minister.

It was the cause of the time which beckoned him to acknowledge the call to service. Although I was not in Washington on November 13, I felt a deep connection to the time and place. I thought to myself that a memorial is fitting. A national holiday is honorable.

Then it dawned on me this event was about a legacy of a man who wanted to see the Beloved Community. A community where all people are affirmed, esteemed, loved, and respected.

It was at this moment I had to reflect on my own time and space in life. I asked myself the questions: How could I be a better husband? How could I be a more endearing father? How could I be a conscience contributor to the community? How could I learn from the chronicles of life? How could I be part of the reality of the Beloved Community?

And then I answered; but yet the struggle continues.

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