[As Tom is currently in New Zealand, the timing of this post is a little off—it was meant for yesterday. However, the message is still worth pause and reflection. --SD]
The Annapolis I grew up in in the late 1940s and 1950s was very "Old South" in its sentiments, a long way from the "D.C. bedroom community" it is today. And, alas, I well remember at the Main Dock, home to the first real "tea party"—that preceded Boston's better known version—I'm sorry to say I clearly recall the "Colored" and "White" public toilets. (A very prominent African-American friend added, "Not quite, Tom. Try 'Men,' 'Women,' 'Colored'."—a significant twist.)
In the early '60s, as a college student, I was very peripherally involved in the Civil Rights Movement. (I emphasize the "very peripherally," meaning strong supporter but hardly deserving credit for being on the front lines.) In retrospect, I consider the Civil Rights Movement, along with the positive outcome of the 40-year Cold War, to be the most significant events of my adult life—the iPad and IM do not really compare.
This personal historical reality makes me reflect with the strongest emotions on the instance of Martin Luther King Day—a national holiday worthy of our closest and most profound attention.
(I would add as an aside that, while I am as appalled and sorrowful as anyone about the event in Tucson, I would remind that the current rancor is not unique. The '50s and '60s gave us, recall, among other things, Medgar Evers, Philadelphia MS, Kent State and the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK.)