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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

Message from the Secretary - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2012
Washington, DC
January 16, 2012

A Message from the Secretary on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On this day of national tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we honor the memory, the vision, and the service of one of the greatest Americans in my lifetime.

As we, at VA, strive to serve our Nation's Veterans, let us remember, emulate, and achieve the ideals of justice, of duty, and of abiding respect for one another to which Dr. King dedicated both the eloquence of his words and the nobility of his deeds.

Almost 44 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. As visionary minister; advocate for peace, justice, and equality; dedicated leader of the civil rights movement; and charismatic leader of the nonviolent movement for civil disobedience, his death was a tragic loss for our entire Nation.

Yet, the power of Dr. King's dream for a better, more just America lives on. It lives on in our continued commitment to justice for all and to the dignity of each life, even when neither privilege nor abundance is involved. It lives on in the quiet of the beauty at 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W, here in Washington DC, where his memorial was dedicated last year, after 20 years of planning. And it lives on in the wise and enduring words with which he pursued his dream:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." (1963)

"We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." (1967)

As we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. King, let us rededicate ourselves to the noble mission of serving all our Nation's Veterans.

Eric K. Shinseki