We honor a great man today who literally gave his life to establish equality and opportunity. Of course, black lives matter. However, throughout history others have suffered and still endure discrimination. In my case, it was being Jewish.
Because my father died during the Great Depression when I was four years old, my poverty-stricken mother placed me in an orphanage. There were a few Jewish kids there, but the school’s orientation was totally Christian. With no other choice, I had to attend Christian chapel services daily and twice on Sundays.
I was there for 11 years, and there were frequent schoolyard taunts, fights and name-calling by the Christian kids. Later, in World War 2, my Navy service included the same kinds of discrimination in barracks and aboard ship. When I was promoted to chief petty officer, I bunked with another CPO who happened to be black. We endured taunts from shipmates, including obscene name-calling signs on the bulkhead next to our quarters.
When on duty at a Naval Air Station, our carrier air group members had a weekend social event at a nearby hotel resort. When I checked in, the clerk informed me that they usually did not admit Jews. However, because I was in Navy uniform, he kindly said it would be OK just that once.
Later, during my career with a major insurance company, one of my duties was writing speeches for executives to deliver at business conventions. A compliment I often received from a vice president was when he called me his little Jewboy speechwriter.
On this day dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., we should all honor his wisdom. Quotes from one of his famous speeches sum it up:
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!