Honoring the Life and Legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ceremony to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statuary Hall, U.S. Capitol, April 3, 2008
"The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had his own thoughts on how he wanted to be remembered. In a famous sermon at Ebeneezer Baptist Church, he once spoke about The Drum Major Instinct' the desire in everyone to lead the band, to be up front, to seek the praise.
"He said even he could be guided by the Drum Major Instinct' but that he had tried to put it to a better use. If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,' he said. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.'
"A few weeks after that speech the world would indeed say these things of Dr. King. They would say America's late march toward full equality would not have been possible without him and his drum major instinct; that it could not have happened without the spark he lit, a spark that became a certain kind of fire that no water could put out.' "He was the Great Drum Major of our time, uniting a nation behind his singular, beautiful cadence. And though his drum is silent now, his words and his life will always inspire us. On this solemn anniversary, we remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. And we hope that the cause for which he gave his life moves many in our day to circle around the standard of justice, and lift it high, and carry it ahead."