While I delightedly and humbly celebrate July 4th and other similar holidays, there is really only one that directly relates to events that occurred in my adult lifetime. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. The Civil Rights Movement was part and parcel of my lifetime—a lifetime marked, in my youth, with the likes of "Colored" and "White" public toilets at the main dock in Annapolis, Maryland. Regardless of your views of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate, the seriousness of his candidacy is a measure of how far we have come in the last half century.
One of my favorite quotes, though "favorite" is hardly the right word given the circumstances, concerning the fleeting nature of our lives on earth, is this one, from Dr King's speech the night before he was assassinated:
And I got into Memphis, and some say the threats were all around. Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me, because I've been to the mountain top. Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will, and He's allowed me to go up the mountain. And I've looked over. And I have seen the Promised Land. And I don't mind. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. I am not worried. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.