“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In his book “Strength to Love,” American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. urges people to take action and fight for what is right: equality.
Monday, January 18 signified the holiday dedicated to honoring this influential leader. Celebrations and events were held all around the nation to remember the man who changed history. In Montgomery County, families gathered together to take part in the many volunteer and charity events organized for the annual MLK Day of Service.
The holiday is held on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and promotes principles of peaceful social change through community projects. Montgomery County reflects these principles by organizing community events that unite people of all races and backgrounds. Volunteers showed their support for the holiday by helping out at these events. The ultimate goal of the holiday was to address a variety of social needs, whether it be raising awareness or helping the troops, homeless, and elderly.
Volunteer projects included assembling care packages for foster children, making dog toys for the Humane Society, and cutting shoe patterns for children in Uganda. Students earned SSL hours for participating in these projects, while also earning the benefit of helping those in need. For example, Seneca Creek Community Church organized activities such as preparing food for the Gude Men’s Shelter, making cards for troops, and creating dog toys for animal shelters.
Another event was held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Around 200 volunteers arrived at the center Monday morning to package over 20,000 meals for the poor. Other equally heartwarming acts of charity included creating thank you cards for wounded veterans, making bead bracelets for patients at the Holy Cross Hospital, assembling hygiene kits for the homeless, and making birthday cards for kids in foster care. These community events show just how long a way a little act of compassion can go.
Montgomery Parks also participated in the Day of Service. Hundreds of volunteers lined up to clean up the parks and remove harmful plants from the park grounds. The day celebrated not only compassion for humanity, but compassion for the Earth as well.
Although Martin Luther King Day is not one of the most commonly celebrated holidays, it is nonetheless very significant. “Even though I don’t really celebrate [the holiday], it’s important because people advocate the values that Martin Luther King preached,” said Northwest High School sophomore Jessica Lou. These values–compassion, equality, and peace to name a few–are celebrated annually throughout the community.
The first Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was celebrated on January 20, 1986 after a huge push in Congress. Ever since then, people have carried on and pursued King’s dream of equality. The activities held annually on January 18 are a way to strengthen the bonds in a community. Martin Luther King Day is ultimately a day for everyone, regardless of race or social status, to cherish and celebrate one another.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Cindy Song of Richard Montgomery High School