Nation marks 40th anniversary of MLK assassination

NATIONAL (NBC) - Across the country Friday thousands stopped to reflect on and remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

One of the biggest celebrations of his life is going on in Memphis at the site of the Lorraine Motel where King was gunned down.

Honor and respect mark the legacy of Dr. King 40-years after his death, a scar that still cuts very deep, especially for those who were there.

The Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles was with Dr. King the day he was murdered. Kyles said, "And that's how I've been able to handle it all of these years.  Crucifixions have to have witnesses, and I was there to be a witness, and a truthful witness."

There is, of course, a political side to all of this.

John McCain apologized in Memphis for what he called a "mistake" voting against a national holiday honoring Dr. King. On Friday, McCain told a Memphis audience, "I was wrong; I was wrong."

Hillary Clinton visited the site, while Barack Obama spoke about King in Indiana.
But the most important words were from those closest to the murdered civil rights icon.

Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, said, "As a King I am making you the recipient of decrees on behalf of your generation you have a responsibility to not let this moment slip away from you. You have a responsibility that when you get out of this seat to step into your rightful place as a leader in your generation."

While King's daughter Bernice talked with school children in Atlanta, the children of sanitation workers in Memphis took the same steps their fathers did four decades earlier.

Marcher Ricky Higginbottom said, "I was one month old and as I got older he told me a lot about Dr. King and I wanted to live the dream."

It's a dream passed on now to a new generation.

Posted by Chantelle Janelle