Service and Celebration

January 22, 2009

On Monday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday,  I walked the beach in the early still-night morning, when the stars shine brightly until the sky gently lightens and they vanish. As the sun rises behind the cliffs, the light first hits the outer breakers and catches the crests of the waves, just as they curl and crash. 

With the sun higher in the sky, I descended the zig-zag wooden steps to Agate Beach once more. I found a man and a woman at the foot of the stairs, plastic white garbage bags in hand, picking up trash.

It’s a national day of service, the woman said.

Every day should be a national day of service, I responded.

They were residents of Newport. There were no local events scheduled in accordance with President Obama’s call to service, so they created their own.

I ran back up the stairs, grabbed some trash bags and descended to join them. I picked up plastic bottle caps, bits of plastic twine and rope, pieces of styrofoam, plastic pop bottles, a single shoe, foil candy bar wrappers. I was one person on the wide sands facing a wider ocean. And I knew I was making a difference. I thought, what if everyone picked up one bag of trash? 

It’s just like the work of Isis Initiative and the people who support our efforts. If each person does a little, we can turn the tide.

Hold onto a vision, speak it out loud and with passion, then go to work and make it happen. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. boomed his voice and his vision into the air, into the hearts of multitudes of people, and into history on the Washington Mall in 1963. In 2009, Barack Obama looked over an ocean of people, flooding the Mall, and took a sacred oath to become our 44th president.

I Have a Dream became Yes we can! We have crossed over, from the cold night with the only the bright stars to guide us to the boisterous, hopeful dawn and the anointing of a new day.

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