Guest column: Dream came true through President Obama
The following is the transcript of a speech given Monday morning by G.P. Hardy III at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony in Victoria.
What an incredible day. We celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. - and, as I speak, Barack Obama is being sworn into his second term as president of the United States.
Dr. King laid bare the soul of America that freedom and justice are essential and unalienable rights to be enjoyed by every American, regardless the color of their skin or station in life. As the movement of thousands of men and women committed the securing these basic rights grew, so grew our national consciousness that indeed these rights were not enjoyed by all Americans. Dedicated men and women pressed forward with legislation, community efforts, church and educational efforts - and yes, great strides toward freedom, equality and justice were made.
Dr. King and the civil rights movement inspired by Mrs. Rosa Parks left us a legacy - a legacy that must be passed from generation to generation. We will never reach that point where we can say, "There is no prejudice. There is no discrimination. There is complete equality and equal justice for all."
Each generation must have its standard bearer. A standard bearer with the strength and courage of those that went before.
I can only imagine in my mind's eye the pride Dr. King would have felt in President Obama. A man who courageously brought this nation from certain economic collapse and perhaps the world economy from collapse, a man who had the courage to draw down our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the courage to order the strike on Osama bin Laden when failure would have had extreme political consequences.
Barack Obama is not your president. He is our president - a president who has acted in the best interest of all Americans. He has worked tirelessly to provide a stable economic footing for the middle class, the working class and, at the same time, provide businesses with predictable rules and regulations so that they can prosper and grow.
President Obama passed the Affordable Health Care Act to ensure that most and ultimately all Americans have affordable health care.
Dr. King must be proud. President Obama has done these things in the face of vicious attacks on his character, morals and motivation. He is a man - a human being - and it must be painful for him when the attacks are not just centered on him but his family. Dr. King must be proud of the strength and character of President Obama in not reacting to these attacks. They are not unlike those Dr. King suffered.
It is so rare that a genuinely deep down good man emerges as a leader. There have been few in history, and President Obama is such a man. It is not hard to see that much of the demeaning toward this great man is because of the color of his skin, and yet you have never heard him make mention of that which is so obvious.
Our country is dealing with troubling times and federal spending that is putting the country into incredible debt. There are problems that must be dealt with, but we cannot rein in that spending on the back of working men and women, the young, the elderly and the infirm. There are no easy solutions to such complex problems. President Obama understands that view. He knows that any society that turns its back on its poor, its young, its elderly and its infirm is a doomed society. Yes, this is a man who must have been a part of Dr. King's dream. I leave you with this thought:
Freedom for all.
Free from fear for the safety of our children.
Free from fear that we or a loved one will be stricken with disease or injury and we can't get help.
Free from fear that we might lose our jobs, our homes.
Free from fear of reprisal for the color of skin, religious preference or station in life.
That is what freedom is - to be free from fear.
Politicians play on our fears for political gain and, in doing so, rob us of our freedom - the right to be free of fear.
As Dr. King would say, "We can overcome," but it will take the collective soul of our nation.
God bless America.
G.P. Hardy III is a Victoria attorney who has practiced in Victoria for four years. He practices law with his wife, Sandra McKenzie, and has handled a number of civil rights cases, including the case of Randall Webster, which was made into the movie "The Killing of Randy Webster."