Mike, one of our readers in Sacramento, California, who also leads a high school band, has the distinction of joining me for lunch every day. At least that’s how he describes reading the Catch every day at school on his lunch break. I love thinking about that and often try to imagine being there with him. Except that last night he wrote me this:
“I missed lunch with you today. My high school band marched in the Sacramento MLK Jr. Day ‘Marade’ (March and parade) all 5 miles of it. I tried to emphasize the historical reenactment scenario to them, but it was kind of lost in the thirsty looks, tired complaints, the ‘how much longer’ whines and, ‘Where are the port-a-potties?’ We did provide water, had extra people to carry the heavy instruments for a while, let some of the boys find potty relief at Target and counted down the blocks. They survived. I didn’t lose a one, but they, too, have become a part of history by remembering, through the reenactment, the significance of the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
I thought this was both humorous and poignant, especially when I went to a website about the “Marade” and found this quote from Dr. King: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
How would Dr. King have known that “the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals” would one day involve thirsty high school band players lugging instruments and praying for port-a-potties over a five mile parade route? But can we blame these kids? No. They’re just being kids. We can marvel, however, that the mundane nature of their sacrifice compared to the much more serious sacrifices of those Dr. King was speaking about — those who were beaten and those who lost their lives — only points to the justice and dignity that those former sacrifices won. Looking for a Target to go to the bathroom in is actually a huge win when you think of the stores and the bathrooms these students would not have been allowed to enter in Dr. King’s day. Maybe they don’t get that now, but maybe, after yesterday, they might start to understand.
This is why it’s important to remember these things. Every freedom we have cost somebody something, right up to the greatest freedom of all — that being the freedom from sin and death that cost the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I love the fact that these kids had a tough day yesterday. I hope they — we — never forget that, and I hope they blew their horns and beat their drums with passion. And come next year, I hope they’ll do it all again (and maybe with fewer complaints, but then again, they’re just kids).