Today we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who is remembered for his work to bring hope to a nation during a tumultuous time in our history, and in doing so, dedicated his life in service to others.
Paying true homage to the spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his birthday is not only designated as a federal holiday, but as a Day of Service. Across the country, Americans will honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and storied accomplishments for equality by investing time in their fellow man.
This Day of Service was created to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and to “empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, and create solutions to social problems.” By spending time working together to improve our communities, we can continue Dr. King’s legacy of working toward a brighter future.
A Day of Service
Viewing this day as “a day on, not a day off” is a unique way to pay tribute to Dr. King’s memory. While his “I Have a Dream” speech is famously remembered as Dr. King laying out a vision for our nation in which race would not determine one’s destiny, his quotes and commitment to service should be just as revered.
Dr. King’s question of “what are you doing for others?” should be a constant reminder that a spirit of volunteerism is necessary to a successful life and society. To me, King communicated this message not to deride people for failing to serve, but to be a gentle reminder of its importance.
A simple act of service possesses the power to transform lives, in addition to reinforcing key principles of selflessness, leadership and engagement. By inspiring us to serve others and work within our communities, King is bringing us that much closer to his vision of a nation comprised of citizens championing equality and peace.
Serving Our Nation
This sentiment of service is one echoed by figures in our nation’s history both past and present. The late President George H.W. Bush maintained that “any definition of a successful life should include service to others.”
Former President Barack Obama equated service as a necessary component of being an American by saying “Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another.”
These service-focused leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., have helped shape our nation and reinforce this theme of using our lives to benefit others.
Our nation has endured countless changes—notably being the progression of equality in our society—but it is imperative that we do not take these changes for granted. We must make a concerted effort to continue these positive changes. The onus is on each one of us to ensure we remain on this path of service.
Continuing a Legacy of Service
With ever-growing lists of demands and pressures of day to day life, it becomes easy to overlook the importance of serving those in our communities. Despite the hustle and bustle of daily life, I encourage you to make time today to find a way to serve someone. If you’re interested in learning more about volunteer efforts in your area, you can find a list of Day of Service opportunities and ongoing projects here.
On this day, and every day that follows it, keep the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in your mind. Ask yourself: What am I doing for others?