King commemoration lukewarm in valley
EAGLE COUNTY ” Rather than commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. on just one day, Vail resident Robert Aikens thinks about the civil-rights leader on a daily basis.
“I don’t do anything special on Christmas or any other holiday,” Aikens said. “The way I try to live my life ” I think of these things on a daily basis.”
Hanging in his office is a King quote: “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
The quote seems to soothe him when angered, he said.
Aikens said King’s teachings ” including not judging a person by skin color but by character ” should still be relevant today.
“We need to remember him year ’round, not just on one day,” he said.
Some in Eagle County weren’t as tuned into King on Monday. Kori Medeiros said he reflected on King Sunday, but thought little of him the following day.
“It’s great to focus on what he stood for,” Medeiros said. “Maybe we should celebrate more.”
City Market employee Clementina Almaraz didn’t mark the day.
“It’s important, but I don’t really have the custom to do that,” she said.
While most Eagle County students took the day off, their Summit counterparts spent the day learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our kids are very busy in school today learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions,” said Dr. Millie Hamner, Summit County superintendent. “It actually works out very well for us as far as recognizing him while we have kids in school rather than recognizing him by having the day off.”
Administrators schedule school on Martin Luther King and Presidents’ days to maximize contact with students, Hamner said.
“We’re also trying to work with our community around when they would like to see kids in school,” Hamner said. “Our community tends to be very busy on some of the holidays, so we tend to hold school on them.”
In many places, people will help with projects aimed to improve the community and help the needy. Supporters of the holiday try to discourage businesses from using it as a marketing gimmick.
“Martin Luther King would turn over in his grave if he thought he was recognized by a day of shopping and rest,” said former Sen. Harris Wofford, who worked with Rep. John Lewis to establish the holiday as a day of service.
“The idea that it’s a day on and not a day off is catching on,” Wofford said. “But the King holiday is well short of what it needs to be.”
Vail Mountain School students participate in a service project inside or outside the school, spokeswoman Jaime Walker said. Older students traveled to Denver to volunteer in a soup kitchen; some younger kids made cookies to send to local fire and police departments, among many other projects.
“We honor his message by not taking day off but by contributing to the community and giving back,” Walker said.
An Associated Press poll found blacks are more likely than whites to commemorate Martin Luther King’s birthday. A fourth of those polled said they planned to commemorate the holiday, while 60 percent of blacks planned to be involved.
“Participating in the march and in church services is a good time of fellowship and is important in keeping the dream alive,” said Aubrey Jones, a black deputy warden at a state prison in Macon, Ga.
Fewer than one in six whites, 15 percent, planned to commemorate the day, the poll shows.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or email@example.com.