We've been looking for ways to heal ever since.
The King Day of Service has helped with that healing, inspiring hundreds of thousands to gather every year to help people in need, building relationships in the process. Commemorating King's birthday in this way is fitting.
Walking for peace
But even King's tragic death can provide a path to peace. Four years ago, I joined a small group of people from the Philadelphia area who decided to acknowledge the anniversary of his assassination by demonstrating that even a bullet fired in hatred could not stop the fight for peace.
Because King had to cross many bridges in his quest to bring people together, our idea was to stage a "Bridge Walk for Peace." Every April 4, the participants would gather before dawn at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, walk to its summit, and offer a prayer for peace at sunrise to welcome the promise of a new day.
It was a small gesture. It was simple. But it represented our personal commitment to keep fighting.
Getting up early
When the Bridge Walk for Peace was first organized, the idea was to hold it every year on April 4 at sunrise. But the organizers were told that we should instead pick a weekend day, preferably a Saturday, to increase participation. We were told that sunrise was not a good time for the walk, because many people don't like to get up early to do much of anything. We were told that walking across a bridge would not appeal to a lot of people.
The organizers knew all this. And we know that working for peace has never been an easy journey. It comes early in the morning and in the still of the night. It comes in times of comfort but, more often than not, it comes as a result of conflict. And working for peace is simply not everybody's cup of tea.
So our small group gathers today, and on every other April 4, as the sun rises. We offer a prayer for peace. And then we get back to work on the things for which Dr. King lived, fought, and, yes, died. Bridges are made to be crossed, and no matter how tough the road ahead, the crossing always begins with the first step.
David W. Brown is chairman of the board of advisers of the talk radio station WURD-AM (900) in Philadelphia. He cofounded the Bridge Walk for Peace on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., in 2008. He can be reached at email@example.com.