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Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. - We All Have Two Days

Today we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. We celebrate his dreams, his visions and the fact that - although he isn't here to see the measure of equality our world now stands for - it exists, because he took a stand.

He died for his visions, his beliefs, and his dreams. In truth- he was killed for those fanicful notions. As Bear says, "The brown people and the white people didn't want to sit together on the bus. So they fighted." And how, my love - and how they did fight.

So, we honor this man on his birthday, but not on his deathday. We don't pause on April 4th, when the weather is warming slightly, the snow starting to melt and our internal spirits rising with the temperature, and say, "Here's to a man who - on some level - knew he was sacrificing his life for his beliefs." No, we recognize him on the day his mother pushed him into the world, unknowingly giving life to a man that would change the lives of millions.


I wonder what the discussion around the nominating committee table for "National Holidays Devoted To An Individual" sounded like. For, as noted in the article, "It is one of three United States federal holidays to commemorate an individual person.[1]" I wonder if there was much discussion, or if the decision to honor this man was unanimous. But more than that, I wonder if , as Reagan signed the "holiday into law" in 1983, they even debated which day to celebrate - his birthday or his deathday. I doubt it.

Before losing a child, this line of thinking would never have struck me. Before burying my baby into the earth, it made perfect sense to honor this brave man on his birthday. But now, after years of answering questions with double statements...

"Oh, I'm sorry for your loss. When did she die?"
"Well ...she died on September 6th, but she was born on September 8th."

I can't help but ask the question, if we remember this man for his life actions, why memoralize the first day of his life, instead of his last?

And yet - I suppose this makes me a hypocrite. For annually, we gather at Emma's grave with flowers, balloons, tears, and smiles on September 8th - her birthday. I choose to celebrate the day I birthed her, the day we met her serene and perfect face. I keep very busy on the day I felt "excessive" movement - the day I threw my head back and laughed, a first-time pregnancy naive laugh- as she died within me.

No judgement in this post, for I would have to judge myself right along with the group of men and women who sat in that early-80's room, creating a day to honor a great man.

No - only questions. Well - one question, really.

Regardless of our children's lifespan, 30 years or 3 days, why or why not do we choose to celebrate their birth over their death?


Michelle said...

I am not sure exactly. Maybe to celebrate life rather then death. I think people would rather remember a happy day then a sad one.

Sara said...

I think when it comes to celebrating, we choose the birthday because in the natural order of things it represents life. We would rather think of the beginning not the end.

I am not sure what we will do in the future, but this year we marked both Henry's birth and death. We celebrated his birthday--cake and balloons--but we simply honored him on his death day with a Mass, a lit candle. In both cases, we marked the actual day in some way (planting a tree, watching video of him), but we also did something on the closest weekend so that my family could be involved.

The Turtle and the Monkey said...

I agree with the others that no one wants to celebrate the end. People avoid the sadness of a death.

We celebrate both of Noah's days. His birthday celebration is simple as to not take away from Monkey's day. I focus more on his death day. It allows me to take in his entire life.

ezra'smommy said...

So far I find only darkness in the day of his death, but with the day of his birth I can still muster just a little hope.

Kristin said...

I think its because birth is usually a day of happiness and we mourn their deaths.

Eskimo_Kisses_4_U said...

I believe that for most the birthday is a celebration and the death day brings sadness as letting go of a loved one is difficult.

I celebrate both, one for birth and one for death. The death day is usually something I do privately and alone.

Dora said...

In this instance, to celebrate the date of his death could seem to honor his assassin. This was not a natural death after a life of service, it was a murder.

Just a thought.

In Due Time said...

I think many people celebrate the birthday day and mourn the day they died because you've lost them. Although, I tend to remember the day someone died more than the day they were born for some reason. I guess it's because it's the day they left us.

Bluebird said...

I agree with the others. I think we tend to celebrate the day of their birth, and honor the day of their death. Beautiful post.

~Jess said...

I think it's because of the sadness associated with one wants to remember that. We'd rather remember the beginning not the end. I don't know if that makes sense.


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