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Why King Day is an Important Holiday

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

I consider the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to Sacred Works. Although I do not think that God wrote them directly, it is easy to see the hand of God in their writing.

The Declaration of Independence sets forth the dream of America, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This doesn't guarantee that all men have equal things, but it guarantees that all men have the right to do as they see fit.

While the Declaration of Independence set forth our dreams, the Constitution is perhaps a more amazing work. It provides a logical, practical framework of governing that still works. Its easy to dream dreams, but making dreams come true takes work.

However, the Constitution has a fatal flaw - the Constitution did not abolish the crime of slavery. In fact in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, it states:

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

Harry V. Jaffa remarked that

"It is not wonderful that a nation of slave-holders, upon achieving independence, failed to abolish slavery. What is wonderful, indeed miraculous, is that a nation of slave-holders founded a new nation on the proposition that 'all men are created equal,' making the abolition of slavery a moral and political necessity."

The spirit of America demands that slavery end to allow all men their God-given freedom. One of the causes of the Civil War was slavery, and slavery was ended because of the war. However, with Lincoln's death, the post-war reconstruction was lacking inspired leadership, and within ten years, former slaves had lost a lot of the gains that looked so promising with the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation. For the next century, true liberty was not available to all Americans. America wasn't living up to its promise.

John Leonard described the Civil Rights movement as the "Second Revolution" of America. Many people worked hard to restore America to its promise that all men were created equal, with rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

While many people worked hard to achieve the restoration of these rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the forefront. His "Dream" speech delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 addresses to the original spirit of the Declaration of Independence:

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned."

One of King's greatest contributions was his insistence that the struggle be conducted following Gandhi's principles of non-violent resistance.

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

In the speech, he clarifies the American dream. He said:

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

For the revival of the American Dream, for steering America back to the promise of its dream, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday deserves to be a national holiday.

While the Fourth of July celebrates the birth of the dream, King Day celebrates the implementation of the dream, when all men could truly be equal.

Iris Badge


Paul Burns

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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