Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Remembrance
"A Day On...Not A Day Off"
REMARKS PREPARED FOR
ROY BERNARDI, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our departmental observance for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thank you for coming.
Today we honor one of history's greatest figures, a man who embodied our own constitution and is an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
Every year our nation pauses to remember, to celebrate, and to act in his memory. Dr. King was so many things...a civil rights leader...and a teacher...and a minister...and a visionary...and a philosopher. He dedicated his life to healing a fractured, wounded country. His legacy is visible every day, in countless ways, as we strive, in our own way, to make this a more just and fair world. Dr. King sought the best in our hearts to make our world more loving, more caring, more inclusive, and more generous of spirit.
He accomplished his work through the power of ideas and a steadfast demonstration of purpose. His singular contributions helped a divided nation unite. His sermons were a vision of positive change, a dream that would make each person free, proud, and selfless.
His battle for justice ultimately became our battle, as Dr. King showed us the power and profound depth of the American Constitution. His Dream was the American Dream. His struggle became our struggle. His hope shaped the hopes of all of us.
Early in his career he spoke to some college students here in Washington. He spoke to them of their future...the careers they might choose. Here is the advice he gave: "Whatever career you may choose for yourself - doctor, lawyer, teacher - let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life." For him, this meant a life of service and sacrifice, to live for something bigger than oneself, to strive for something of great purpose and large consequence. He said, "Make a career of humanity....You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
Here at HUD our employees have taken that advice to heart. We have chosen a career of service. It isn't easy work...you know that. But it has the rewards mentioned by Dr. King...by living and working in public service, we find our sense of purpose and change this world for the better.
That is why we have this holiday celebration. Dr. King lived and struggled for all Americans. He was a man of great humanity and kindness, with a large sense of purpose, a rebel who sought to bring down the walls of injustice and end the lingering practices of segregation and oppression.
Today we are proud of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We gather to share our memories and to renew our commitment to the American Dream. We again become inspired by the spirit of Dr. King. He again teaches us about our own humanity. He again urges us to join together, to make this nation nobler, better, and kinder. And we gather to give thanks for a life well-led, by a man who saw the promise of our Constitution and helped America fulfill that promise.
Mindful of that promise, please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.