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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington, D.C. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. inspires us to greater public service. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

I’m grateful for Martin Luther King Jr. Day because it’s a national day for public service.

I’m grateful to all the volunteers who help make this country a better place, who share their time and resources — however limited — to share with others.

That’s my America.

Volunteers fill me with hope every day, everywhere I travel in this country.

They’re at Red Cross blood donor clinics; they’re serving meals to the homeless; they’re collecting and distributing food to the hungry; they’re soothing the troubled, sick and dying. They’re playing with children as Big Sisters and Big Brothers.

In my adopted country, however, there aren’t enough volunteers to do all that we need.

Governments can’t do it all; non-profits and public agencies can’t do it all; and businesses certainly can’t. Many corporations only give because of the tax breaks; not all see the benefit of a common good.

I encourage everyone to devote a full day of service some time this year, if not today, to this country. It might change your view of whether the country is doing well or not. (A new CNN poll shows 51% of Americans think the U.S. is doing badly.)

Martin Luther King Jr. was a powerful leader in his church, in his community, and all over this country. He sacrificed much and endured much to be a voice of non-violence and public service.

As a new citizen, I’ve been reading U.S. history and the biographies of people who made a difference in shaping this country for good. I highly recommend My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. by his widow, Coretta Scott King.

If you ever needed a lesson in true public service, heed the voice, and the example, of Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s fitting, in so many ways, that today is the public inauguration of President Barack Obama, as he begins his second term.

While some ignore the mission of Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama lives it, every day.

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