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Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Why are you thankful?

By Melissa Bell
Martin Luther King
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

On April 5, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a day of national mourning, saying in part: "Men of all races, all religions, all regions must join together in this hour to deny violence its victory -- and to fulfill the vision of brotherhood that gave purpose to Martin Luther King's life and work. ... In our churches, in our homes, and in our private hearts, let us resolve before God to stand against divisiveness in our country and all its consequences."

On Monday, for the 43rd year, the country will pause in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. This year will mark an even bigger tribute with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, slated to open in August in Washington. (Read about the architect of the memorial here.)

Last year, The Post asked readers how King inspired them. This year, we want to know why you're thankful for the man and the legacy he left the United States.

What debt of gratitude do you owe to Martin Luther King Jr.? Why are you thankful for his life and his resounding message?

Use #thanksmlk to tell us why you're thankful.

And if you need a refresher on his message, here's the full "I Have a Dream" speech:

By Melissa Bell  | January 14, 2011; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Free at last/free at last/if it were only true/we'd be free at last/from gun toting congressmen/bankers pocketing our resources/leaders not leading/media mis- informing/religious leaders neglecting the spiritual/i'm thankful/that dr. king sang those words/at the top of his lungs/it's a song/we should all be singing/all ways/all people/today/as we make every day/dr king's day.

Posted by: knowone1 | January 14, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

the king memorial committee gave the sculpture commission to a sculptor in china with a no bid contract, who had no idea who king was. king's native georgia is one of america's leading granite producers, another is my state of vermont. pleas from our congressional delegation fell on deaf ears... king's memory was dishonored by the committee -which was made up entirely of african american republicans. it was yet another bush administration failure of leadership. if the resemblance of the monumental statue isn't exactly right- now you know why.

Posted by: marcawodey | January 14, 2011 11:59 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Memphis during the turbulent years of the civil rights movement. I instinctively knew the discrimination I saw was wrong. We have all seen the photo images of this hate and if you are reading this, you know what I am speaking of. I am ashamed to say that I was taught the rhetoric of hate by my very own mother. I was chastised from even saying yes sir to a black man as a small child. The teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. have taught me more about love and what is right in the world than any other public figure I know.

Posted by: finderbi | January 15, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I ask myself today, "Would Dr. King be satisfied with the progress that our country has made regarding "civil rights"?
My answer would be, "I don't think so"...
What can we do to move forward to keep Dr. King's dream alive? First, we must never forget where we can from; secondly, we must continue to educate our children and our children's children of the history of the "civil rights movement", and thirdly, we must "keep hope and our dreams alive". I am sure that we can think of many more areas to focus upon, but if we focus upon these three categories, I believe we will continue to make progress in keeping Dr. King's dream alive...we are on the right track...

Posted by: SouthernBell2 | January 17, 2011 2:22 AM | Report abuse

In Obama's speech at the memorial service in Tucson last week, he encouraged American to use our moral imaginations to "sharpen our instincts for empathy, remind us of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together." But what exactly did he mean by 'moral imagination'? Seems to me that he was directly encouraging Dr. King's message of unity, common ground and hope in a better nation and world. Moral imagination seems to be saying 'put yourself in another's shoes for a day, and see how it changes your perspective.' University of Michigan Sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker is blogging all this week on that phrase 'moral imagination' and what it means specifically in relation to Dr. King. His daily updated site is working to moderate civil discussion on American values. Check it out at:

Posted by: Gayle_C | January 17, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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