Monday was Martin Luther King holiday and it forced me to think back on the origin of this holiday that was born out of so much strife in our nation. I think it’s important that we remind our kids and grand kids why they are getting a holiday from school lest that’s all they think about.
As I was thinking about this my mind kept going back to “Abraham, Martin and John“, a 1968 song written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written in response to the assassination of King and that of Robert Kennedy in April and June 1968, respectively. The first three verses of the song went like this remembering Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy respectively; the fourth verse was about Robert Kennedy, the president’s brother:
Anybody here, seen my old friend Abraham —
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
They were times of tremendous social unrest in our country about the Vietnam war, racial inequities and all manner of real and perceived social injustices. I believe those were the most violent times of unrest in our generation. Blood was being spilled in our streets and college campuses (remember Kent State?) as authorities tried to cope with unprecedented public protests and restore order.
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing back in those days? I had just graduated from college and moved to Detroit to work for Chrysler. It was just a few months after the LA and Detroit riots where unruly mobs had burned significant parts of those cities in protests. I hadn’t yet even met my wife to be.
The men honored in that song, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy all paid the ultimate price fighting against the injustices of their day. As I look back on those times my social and political views were not yet well formed; all I knew was that there was so much unrest around that there was palpable tension in the air as the day’s events were being proclaimed over the nightly news on ABC, NBC and CBS long before anyone ever thought of cable TV or the internet.
I expect it’s the same today with our kids and grandkids, only now the unrest gets blared out instantly and nonstop over 24/7 “news outlets” that aren’t really broadcasting factual news at all; rather, many of them are opinion outlets for whoever owns them.
It’s our job as seniors to bring perspective to the social and political unrest, both past and present, to those around us who are too young to understand it themselves. But remember, while you’re doing it, to not get caught up in today’s issues so much that you accentuate the problems we face more than the great blessings we enjoy as Americans.
May God continue to bless the USA!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org