Today, 17 October 2015, is my 57th birthday. Where have the years gone? Am I really that old?
When I was born at 10:17 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, 17 October 1958, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States. It is hard to believe that in the span of my short life, I have witnessed the election and administration of 10 presidents.
I was born in what was then known as the town of Salisbury, Maryland. I remember as a boy when out with my parents riding in the car going to different places, people would stop and ask them where Salisbury was, and my parents would always reply, “You just drove through it!” Today Salisbury is a major city on the Delmarva Peninsula. The hospital where I was born was known simply as the Salisbury Hospital. It has long since been remodeled into what is now the Salisbury Regional Medical Center. When I started school in 1963 at the age of 5, I attended an all Black elementary school. I would not experience integration of public schools until I was in high school and was bused across town to attend one of the local high schools.
In the same year that I started school, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, 22 November 1963, in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. I can still recall watching his funeral procession on television, and the image of John Jr. saluting his father’s flag-draped casket as it passed by. The Civil Rights Movement was still at the forefront of the news, and just three short months before the assassination of President Kennedy, on 28 August 1963, America was listening to Civil Rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his timeless “I Have A Dream” speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. In his immortal speech which became a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King called for an end to racism in the United States. I would have never imagined that at the young age of 9, on 4 April 1968, I would hear the television announcer say that Martin Luther King, Jr., at the age of 39, had been shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05PM that evening. I also remember watching his funeral services on television, and the image of his endearing wife, Coretta Scott King, and their young children.
Yes, many things have changed since 17 October 1958, but some things have also remained the same on many levels. What I have admired about the people aforementioned, as well as other greats that have influenced my young life is that none of them lived their life just to be living it. Each of them worked hard to make even a small difference and to make the world a better place for everyone to live in. It is because of that inspiration that at the start of another year of life, I have decided to adopt the following as a new motto: “Anima plus est quam esse diem. Verum cum cupiam vivere incipiat qualitercumque porrexeris plenam potentiam quique ante destinatum est.” (Translation: Life is more than just existing from day-to-day. You truly begin to live when you yearn to reach for your full potential and become who you were meant to be.) I hope that you too will resolve to do more than just exist.