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Reed's library service

Frankie Reed Us Ambassador To Fiji
Saturday, January 26, 2013

FOR more than 30 years, Americans, on each third Monday of January, have honoured the life and achievements of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr, the 1964 Nobel Peace laureate and the individual most associated with the triumphs of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s.

As a political organiser, supremely skilled orator and advocate of non-violent protest, Dr King was the chief advocate for the use of non-violent activism to persuade his fellow Americans to end the legal segregation that prevailed throughout parts of the US, and to rally support for the civil rights legislation that established the legal framework for racial equality in the United States.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service is a way to transform Dr King's life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems.

That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit.

On Martin Luther King Day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions.

President Obama's second inauguration fell on the same day as Martin Luther King Day.

As Americans witnessed the ceremonial swearing in of President Obama, they recalled Dr Kings's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on August 28, 1963, in which Dr King dreamt of a day when his four little children "will not be judged on the colour of their skin but by the content of their character" and called for racial equality and an end to discrimination.

No society is perfect and Americans today still find strength in Dr King's principles and strive to give back to their communities, to gain new skills, and to pull together, even when times are hard.

This year, President Obama and his family spent the day of service assisting a local elementary school with renovations in Washington DC.

Closer to you in Fiji, I marked the day of service by visiting and donating books to the Ratu Ilaisa Memorial School in Semo Village in Nadroga.

This school has become part of my life in Fiji.

I first visited the school in December 2011 to give Christmas presents to the children on behalf of the US Embassy staff.

I later returned to assist the students after the devastating floods in January 2012.

I made my third visit this past weekend but definitely not my last.

Whatever assistance the US Embassy in Suva and I have been able to provide is our way of giving service to the Semo Village community.

I encourage all Fijians to lend a helping hand to each other, in whatever way possible.

As we continue to aid those touched by Tropical Cyclone Evan and move towards a new era of governance and leadership, let all of us unite and serve one another.

President Barack Obama said, "There's nobody who can't help somebody else. And whether you're seven or six or whether you're 76, you can find opportunities to make an enormous difference in your community ...".

Service is a powerful way for citizens, nonprofits, the private sector and government to work together to meet critical needs and advance the dream of opportunity for all.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service shines a spotlight on service as a powerful force to bridge economic and social divides — today and throughout the year.