excerpted fromBeyond Vietnam | By Martin Luther King Jr. | Issue 402 | The Sun Magazine

excerpted from
Beyond Vietnam

A Time To Break Silence

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I took a job as a wildland firefighter this summer. Often in the mornings my co-workers and I would share jokes to start the day. Wildland fire­fighters are generally rough around the edges, and some of the jokes were about sex, violence, and race. I chuckled at a few of them myself.

But one morning someone told a joke about Martin Luther King Jr. that made me feel punched in the gut. I am generally not one to shout or swear, so my co-workers were surprised when I yelled, “That joke fucking sucked!”

I had packed the June 2009 issue of The Sun in my bag that day. When I sat down for lunch and came across King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech on the Dog-Eared Page, I felt grateful. The Sun carries on King’s dream of peace and love in a world where hate can still seem as casual as a joke.

Ben Meyer Wasilla, Alaska
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June 2009