Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, January 15, 2007

ON APRIL 4, 1968, the day of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, the doctor who examined his body estimated that, after years of sit-ins, marches, long nights and inspiring speeches, Dr. King, 39, had the heart of a 60-year-old. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, America honors not only Dr. King's accomplishments, though they are profound; his oration, though it is lyrical; and his dream, though it lives on; but also the tireless devotion with which he pursued them.

For too many Americans, however, the holiday has become little more than an excuse to skip work and sleep in.

Enter the Corporation for National and Community Service, the government agency that administers the AmeriCorps program. It wants to make the King holiday a time of service rather than sloth, and it is organizing community projects and events across the country to do it. The agency is particularly eager to make the Washington area a model of civic participation and service on Dr. King's birthday. Its spokesmen boast that it has assembled an event schedule including a kickoff at Howard University and 80 community service projects around the District. Organizers from the Corporation for National and Community Service expect 10,000 volunteers to contribute time and effort across the region today.

We hope even more show up. We can think of little more fitting than celebrating the values of service and self-sacrifice on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Though ground has been broken on a long-awaited memorial to Dr. King on the Mall, words etched in stone, however grand, cannot honor his legacy as emulating his example can. Visit, find a project in your area, and paint a school or clean up a sidewalk today.

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