Sunday, January 15, 2006


I believe that everyone needs a hero—preferably many heroes—to look up to and help to shape their life. As I think about my own heroes, I realize that I can divide them into three categories:

Personal Heroes: These are the women and men who I have known personally and in some way have touched my life to the point that I want to emulate them.

Historical Heroes: These are men and women who lived before I was born and whom I have come to know through books, films, and other media.

Contemporary Heroes: These are people whose lives have paralleled my own in time. I have come to known them, too, through books and media; but I have also shared time and space with them during my life.

It is a hero from this last category that I write about today. He was seventeen years and about a month old when I was born; he was assassinated when I was twenty-two years old. Had he lived, today he would be celebrating his seventy-seventh birthday.

I include the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, as one of my heroes for many reasons, not the least of which is that Dr. King and I shared another hero: Mohandas K. Gandhi, of whom Dr. King wrote:

Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.

Both men renounced the use of violence as a means to social and political change. Both men, in their own ways, were successful up to a point: Gandhi’s dream of an independent India and a humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony was spoiled by religious intolerance; King’s dream that we Americans would be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. remains a dream because of continued bigotry and intolerance. Both men were assassinated.

Today, on what would have been his 77th birthday, I celebrate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And I pray that I may have the courage he evinced in the face of the same issues that he addressed and for which he was martyred.


  1. Good article. I like the way you placed the pictures. It is as if Gandhi is looking down at like and King is looking up and waving at Gandhi.

  2. Abby: I must admit that I didn’t intentionally arrange those pictures as you have noted. Maybe I did it instinctively?

    kylee: Thank you.

    kylz: Thank you.

  3. I like what King wrote about Gandhi. Like you, King and Gandhi have been two men whose lives have inspired me. Thanks for the article.

  4. I did not know that Mr. King was influenced so by Mr. Gandhi.