Before Martin Luther King, Jr. got to the "I have a dream" part of his most famous speech, he said: "In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. 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, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
It's an inspiring idea. Each generation of Americans has a unique responsibility to make good on the promise that was made at our founding: that we should be one people striving for a more perfect union.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we celebrate the fact that America is a freer and fairer place than it was when King gave that speech on a hot August day in 1963. We're all beneficiaries of that change, regardless of race, skin color or belief. We benefit from living in a society that aspires to "liberty and justice for all," but we also benefit from the countless contributions made in the last 49 years by every kind of American - including those who once would have been marginalized.
The holiday, of course, is bittersweet. The triumph of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life also encompasses the heartbreak of his assassination. There's still injustice in America today, and racism still exists, as well. It's also important that we remember today that the work begun by our founders and continued by King remains for us and future generations to finish.
King challenged America to live up to the ideals of its past and the promise of its future. Every American should be proud that it does so more now than it did in 1963. It's all of our responsibility to ensure that it does so even a little more tomorrow than it did yesterday. In some ways, that makes King's holiday the most American holiday of all.
Ok, so that's why you should celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Now are you wondering how you should celebrate? How about kickin' it up a notch...
About the author: Sam is a friend of House Party. He was Social Media Manager here at House Party - you might remember him as the super sleuth in our murder mystery series. Sam's hobbies used to include music, chess, tennis, stupid Internet things, brilliant Internet things and eating spicy food - but now that he's moved to Brooklyn, pretty much all he does is wait for the subway.
Sam's favorite kind of party is simply, but ever-so-importantly, one wherever his friends are!
Image courtesy of stock.xchng