"...This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play..."
Thanks to Celtic Diva for culling those quotes from his great April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech on the Vietnam War, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence. She's posted a video of the speech at her Blue Oasis.
When Rev. King was assassinated, I was going to college at the University of Washington, and working at a steel fabrication plant, Steel Products, under the shadow of the Fremont Bridge. I was in the U.S. Army when he made the speech, but read about it soon afterward. I managed to read the speech sometime during the summer of 1967, right after I got out of the Army.
That summer - the so-called Summer of Love - 1967, in Seattle, there were racial incidents, flamed by the Seattle Police Department, that was at its worst around that time. The ROTC building on the U of W campus was burnt down in 1967. 1967 saw racial tension in many urban areas of the country.
After King's death, racial and anti-war violence got worse in Seattle, far, far worse in other parts of the country. And, two months later, in California, Robert Kennedy was also gunned down. The combination of these two deaths set progressive thought and action in the USA back more than we'll ever know.
Robert Kennedy wasn't and isn't thought to be a martyr in the strict sense, but Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is regarded by many faiths to be an actual martyr. He's venerated by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, and his Martyr's Feast Day is today.
Here's a set of statues I've visited on my past two trips to London. They're on the side of Westminster Abbey, the frieze being called Twentieth Century Martyrs. The martyrs depicted are Mother Elizabeth of Russia, Rev. King, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
People should seriously reflect on this Iraq War today, as Dr. King did on the Vietnam War during the final year of his ministry. There are aspects of his positive effect and impact upon peoples' lives that reach into many parts of American life and culture. As an example, here's a video of Nichelle Nichols, remembering Rev. King's influence on her, on women, on the stereotyping of minorities, and the TV series, Star Trek:
Part of the importance of what Rev. Martin Luther King's legacy was and is, is our reflection on both his commitment to social justice and the still enormous changes needed to effect them. The depth of his humanity had many, many personal moments like that described by Ms. Nichols.
hat tip to Celtic Diva