Historic strength of the American nation

Julie PaceAP White House Correspondent

January 22, 2013

Monday was a remarkable day in many ways — a day that testified to the historic strength of the American nation.

By an accident of the calendar, this was a day on which we solemnly marked the birthday of an American martyr. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who gave his life in the battle against racism, was born Jan. 15, 1929, and his birthday is commemorated on the third Monday in January.

Barack Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, only six years after King emerged as a leader in the Civil Rights movement, and just seven years before King’s assassination at the age of 39. Obama was only 25 when King’s birthday was first marked as a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. And yet, by the time Obama was 47, he was elected and sworn in as president of the United States. And Monday the nation marked his second inauguration….

A memorial to King stands about 20 blocks west of the Capitol, where Obama took the oath of office. That is not a long distance, and yet it represents a very long journey for a nation that continues to seek to build a perfect union.

Distributed by The Associated Press