That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job." Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" The question is, "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968
And as I reread the mountaintop speech, I'm struck by the tachlis, by how much nitty-gritty detail he talks about, by how much actual action he discusses and (indirectly) gets done. I imagine that, in spite of the soaring rhetoric he's remembered for, he'd be more proud of that. The man continues to inspire.
The man we honor today did what God required. In the end, that is what I will tell my daughters - I will leave it to their teachers and their history books to tell them the rest.
As Dr. King asked to be remembered, I will tell them that this man gave his life serving others. I will tell them that this man tried to love somebody. I will tell them that because he did these things, they live today with the freedom God intended, their citizenship unquestioned, their dreams unbounded.
And I will tell them that they too can love. That they too can serve. And that each generation is beckoned anew, to fight for what is right, and strive for what is just, and to find within itself the spirit, the sense of purpose, that can remake a nation and transform a world.