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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Robert A. McDonald

A Message from the Secretary: 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Washington, DC
January 19, 2015

Each January, on the third Monday of the month, we celebrate the life, honor the vision, and reaffirm the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of great faith, inspiring leadership, and enduring courage.

I’ve been an avid student of effective and inspirational leadership for many years. That pursuit and interest led me to many places—including visits to Morehouse University, which houses a vast collection of Dr. King’s papers, to Montgomery, Alabama, where his march from Selma ended, and to the awe-inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial here in Washington. If you have not been to that memorial, please go—it is an amazing tribute to a great man.

Those trips brought me greater understanding of the lessons to be learned from Dr. King’s exemplary leadership.

We celebrate his life because Dr. King, who experienced much of what was so wrong in our country, never lost faith in what is so right. A Baptist minister and apostle of non-violence, Dr. King stood against the enemies of liberty and freedom as resolute as any soldier. His crusade embodied our Nation’s highest ideals—the right of all people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We honor the vision of Dr. King because he fought courageously against the violence, poverty, and oppression that accompanied the inequality of segregation. His determination in the face of adversity taught us that the oppression of any American enslaves all Americans. None are free until all are free.

We reaffirm the dream of Dr. King because he acted, at great personal cost, to turn his dream of justice into reality for all Americans. His enduring legacy is one of activism and positive social change, a legacy reflected in the deeds of our Veterans, who have sacrificed to ensure freedom and democracy for all people.

On January 19, 2015, honor and celebrate the life of Dr. King—a man who moved us closer to the ideals upon which our Nation was founded. Reaffirm his dream as we honor, serve, and thank all who have risked their lives, freedoms, and safety to keep those ideals alive.

Thank you for what you do for our Nation’s Veterans, and God Bless you all as we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Robert A. McDonald