Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday honoring one of the most influential and iconic leaders of the civil rights movement. It is celebrated each year on the third Monday of January, near his birthday of January 15th.
The holiday was signed into law in January 1983 by President Ronald Reagan and it was first observed three years later. In his proclamation speech, President Reagan noted, "This year marks the first observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. It is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. We rejoice because, in his short life, Dr. King, by his preaching, his example, and his leadership, helped to move us closer to the ideals on which America was founded. . . . He challenged us to make real the promise of America as a land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and brotherhood."
Today, while many of us are enjoying a day off from work, let us remember the meaning behind the King holiday: to honor the total legacy of Dr. King, to focus on the issue of civil rights, to highlight the use of nonviolence to promote change, and to call people into public service.