The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday led me to revisit the eulogy he gave on September 18, 1963 at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama at the funeral of the children who died in the bombing of the church just a few days earlier. What struck me was how relevant the comments are even today 53 years later. It also impressed me as a sad commentary on how little some things have changed.
Children continue to be an easy target for violence. Recently this blog addressed how many children have lost their lives because of gun violence since the tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Important to note is that although some modest piecemeal efforts have been made to mitigate firearm violence, no concerted effort has been developed to effectively secure the safety of children from such harm.
Recently the CBS This Morning program produced a piece that interviewed a couple that lost a child at Sandy Hook. The father, Jimmy Greene, an accomplished jazz saxophonist, has produced an album, “Beautiful Life,” of music inspired by his daughter Ana’s short life. The music is not just a tribute to a dear child whose presence is felt by many even in her absence, but more importantly, is a statement that no matter what the odds, the efforts must continue until one day we can secure a safe environment for all children.
Trauma because of violence is an unfortunate reality for many of the children and youth we serve. Some have experienced unexplainable hardship and tragedy in their short lives. For these children and youth we are resolved to do everything we can to remedy the hurt, ease the burden, and restore hope for them and their families. Let the challenges these children confront lead us to commit to creating lasting change for all of them.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is marked by many as a day of community service. They hope to make a difference by a gesture of caring to those in need. I suggest it also be an opportunity for us to pledge our support for small and big efforts alike to make a difference for vulnerable children, youth, and their families. Hillsides is fortunate to have a great pool of volunteers, who through individual acts and group efforts, touch the lives of those we serve. I hope you will consider becoming a member of this cadre of volunteers. For more information, please visit our website or contact Laura Kelso, our director of community resources, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 323-254-2274, ext. 1251.