When I was little, my birthday was like a national holiday to me. I would wake up early in the morning, wait for the phone calls, the birthday cards, and all the attention the day would bring. My mother would bake a cake, loaded with sugar and butter. (((Now that I am thinking about it, it’s 1:07 and she hasn’t called me yet!!!))) But we always had a nice dinner, sang happy birthday, and blew out the candles. The candles were my favorite part. I remember looking up to the sky and wishing for everything under the sun, while praying for more wishes. With ten kids in my family, we rarely had birthday gifts, but we did have lots of singing and punches on the arm – from everyone! AND, everyone had to be nice to the birthday girl, or boy. It was a nonverbal understanding. It was like being a celebrity. “Amy? Let me help you cut the cake. Amy? What should we have for dinner? Can I blow out the candles with you, Amy!?” It was your day and everyone knew it.
Oh, to be little again.
Today is different. Yes it’s my birthday. But it’s also a special day because we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his legacy. All week I was contemplating how Dr. King would have responded to the tragedy in Tucson. I was born the year he was assassinated, so his words only came to me through radio, television, teachers, and family members. I really didn’t connect to the importance of Dr. King’s dream. It was something the adults put on us.
There have been tragedies like this one and will probably always be tragedies in the world. But I’m not convinced, however, that there needs to be.
President Obama, whose wife’s birthday is also today, spoke last week at the memorial service for the Tucson victims. While his entire speech resonated with me, his plea for the youngest victim, 9-year old, Christina-Taylor Green, was particularly powerful:
“Imagine — can you imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy, just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship, just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation’s future.
She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations.
I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.” (Excerpted from President Obama’s Tucson Speech Read more:@FoxNews.com)
Christina will never be able to blow out her birthday candles, make wishes, or DREAM, ever again.
Tonight, when I am ready to blow out the candles on my birthday cake, I will remember Christina and her family. I will close my eyes ever-so-tightly and make wishes for her. I’ll wish for her a world where little kids can go to any event and not have to worry about being shot. I will wish for her true peace in the world, because our kids deserve it. I will wish for her the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that it will one day come true. Christina dreamed about helping her country. Here’s what her mother told ABC News:“As young as she was, Christina-Taylor talked about getting all the parties to come together so we could live in a better country,” Green told ABC News. “She was going to Giffords’ event to ask questions about how she could help and to learn more about politics in our country.” (comes via ABC News.com)
- Our kids deserve better. It’s up to us!
Yes, today is my birthday but none of our birthdays will be truly HAPPY unless we work for peace in the world. It’s no longer good enough to watch the speeches, teach PEACE in school, and check it off that we ‘covered’ the Martin Luther King Jr., content for January…bulletin boards and all.
We owe it to our kids to give them a world that’s better than what they have now.
We can post PEACE signs in and around our schools. Google has an image of black and white kids playing together. Let’s do more!
It’s up to us.