I had the chance yesterday to watch Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally, on what would be the 47th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Beck chose the Lincoln Memorial site of the rally as it is situated amongst the many monuments to Washington, Jefferson and Veterans of our many conflicts. The rally itself was billed as non-political, and non-partisan in nature. The selection of the date, according to Beck, was purely coincidental, and the fact of it being the anniversary of the speech was overlooked until after the date was publicly announced.
Rev. Al Sharpton and many members of the NAACP considered the Rally an attempt to overshadow the historical significance of King’s speech, and planned a counter-event to honor the legacy of King.
After seeing the event, the speakers did not bring up politics, even Sarah Palin making the remark that
“Now I’ve been asked to come speak today not as a politician, no, something more. Something much more. I’ve been asked to speak as the mother of a soldier. And I am proud of that distinction.”
She then proceeded to introduce three military veterans who truly showed bravery and honor in serving their country.
Three great Americans were recognized for demonstrating the core values that Beck has been discussing this year of Faith, Hope, and Charity. That was followed by Dr. Alveda King, niece of MLK. She spoke of her families’ legacy in the battle for civil rights. Joining her on stage was a number of religious figures, and her portion of the program included Christian music, and reading of the gospel. She concluded with her own “I have a dream” speech:
Beck returned to the stage with what could really be called a sermon, more than a speech. At it’s conclusion, he was joined on stage by more than 200 Ministers, Clerics, Rabbi’s and other religious leaders. They concluded with “Amazing Grace” and a prayer.
In the end, it concluded with no campaigning, no politicians (other than Palin), and no attacks on the current administration. It really felt more like an old-fashioned church revival than anything.
The audience even carried out what they carried in, leaving the National Park Service with much less work to do afterwards:
So was Rev. Sharpton right, I think not. Lets look at a few points:
First, no one own’s the day. Things happen in history, and we commemorate the day, but we don’t prevent other historical events. July 4th is always the celebration of Independence. December 7th with the attack on Pearl Harbor, September 11th for the attacks on New York and Washington, DC. No, August 28th has other historical events associated with it, not just King’s Speech: This Day in History: August 28th.
Beck respected King by staging his event below Lincoln Memorial Circle, while King’s speech was on the first landing below the Memorial itself.
I believe that MLK would not recognize what has become of the NAACP. In his day, it stood for equality and fairness. Today the NAACP has a tendency of elevating themselves above all others, and when that doesn’t happen, shouting racism. In fact, if you look at the events 47 years ago, Dr. King was joined on stage by Charlton Heston, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Beck’s event paralleled that, with all colors and religions represented.
Over the last 100 years, we’ve lost our way with our religious beliefs. With organizations like the ACLU and Atheists trying to remove references to God and our religion in daily life, it is time for a great awakening. Beck’s event could be considered a catalyst for such an awakening. This country was founded on the beliefs of God and freedom of religion. It’s time to remind those groups that our founding fathers believed in God, much like MLK did:
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., September 28, 1963
In all honesty, I think that if you take MLK for what he said and what he believed in, the events at the front of the Lincoln Memorial would make him look down upon us from the heavens and smile at what has become of this country. We may still have a ways to go for all parts of his dream to be fulfilled, but we are getting there.