By Rita R. Robison
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The holiday is a good opportunity for Americans to honor King’s legacy through service. The MLK Day of Service offers people a way they contribute to their community.
After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The federal holiday was first observed in 1986, making 2012 the 26th anniversary of the King federal holiday.
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading the effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." It’s a part of United We Serve, the president's national call to service initiative. The MLK Day of Service calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.
King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live.