As many employees are enjoying Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from their comfort of their homes I will be sitting in the cubicled walls of my work environment and it makes me recall the way I viewed this holiday as an elementary age child. I asked my grandmother if I could stay home that Monday because it was Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday and I’ll never recall the quick response that ended the conversation: “he fought so that we all could have the opportunity to go to work and school not to give you a day off”. That settled it. One single sentence from Grandma nipped the whole idea of a day at home catching up on the Young and the Restless (yep, I was a fan even back then).
Years later, I have worked in environments that follow the federal calendar and those that seem to follow no calendar whatsoever -nothing like working on New Years Eve in a outbound sales environment- and I value the words that my grandmother said. She had never worked outside of the home but she had obviously grown up at a time where she saw the impact of not being allowed to engage in a career of your choosing or pursuing that career but having no opportunity to practice. She understood the value of earning an honest wage for your family without daily impediment or worries.
Those words stood out so significantly to me that I have never used MLK day as a vacation day. When it has been given to me as a federal holiday I’ve used it to participate in a service project or attend a local educational event with my children. On the chance that it hasn’t been offered to me as an official holiday I’ve gone to work with the appreciation for all of the people that paved the way and put in the hard and often dangerous work of protesting, sit-ins, and simply standing for what they believe. I remind myself that the sacrifice of my ancestors and those of other races that believed in equality is more than enough reason for me to ALWAYS strive to be number one and put my best foot forward.
So, regardless of the color of your skin, many of us are experiencing success today that required the sacrifice and hard work of others yesterday. With this in mind I enjoy the unimpeded opportunity to take care of my family, relish the comfort that I am afforded and work hard as a gesture of gratitude to my predecessors.
Happy MLK Day.