Because I grew up in the 1960′s, in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has always had a special meaning to me. I can still remember, as a 12 year old in my hometown of Jackson, Michigan, hearing the news that Dr. King had been killed. And it hit me very hard because I felt he had done so much–and not just for African Americans, but for our country as well.
As I have gotten older, I have only developed more admiration for Dr. King. He made a great personal sacrifice to champion the cause of many people who didn’t have the benefit of equal rights and protection. His goal was to help others and I always admired that. As I grew to learn what personal danger he lived under and how much of a sacrifice he made in serving others, it had a tremendous impact on me.
Today, my wife Lauren and I have to remind our children of what it was like when Dr. King was alive and how he and others had to fight for things we now take for granted. Things like going to school in the neighborhood where they live, eating at any restaraunt they like, shopping at any store they happen to go into–these are things that never even cross their mind. So it comes as a shock to them when we tell them there was a time when that wasn’t the case and that people like Dr. King helped bring about change.
Dr. King was certainly a role model for me and I know that I would never have had the opportunity to coach in the NFL or enjoy many of the moments I’ve had in life without him. So on this MLK Day, I will be gratefully remembering the man who served others so well.