A Dream Realized?

martin-luther-king-jr

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy went on national television and spoke to the nation about a problem “as old as the scriptures.” He told his fellow citizens that our nation could never truly be free until all of the people that made up the nation were in fact free. It was the introduction of civil rights legislation not seen in the United States since the 14th and 15th amendments were enacted 100 years prior. The landmark legislation, essentially ending legalized segregation, was passed by Congress the following year.

At the ceremony, standing beside President Johnson, was Martin Luther King Jr. For it was Martin Luther King Jr. that led a movement in which its demand was something intrinsic to American democracy. That simple yet often times far reaching ideal that all men are created equal. It was a movement for which much blood was shed and which cost Dr. King his very life.

Fifty years from that moment, we have an African American man as President of the United States, something that would have been thought impossible during the early 1960s. But the question is this; Has Martin Luther King’s dream been fully realized?

I will not attempt to answer that question but only ask that as we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. this coming Monday that we stop and ponder the question. And remember, the dream of of Dr. King was for social and economic justice for all people. Have we in Dr. Kings words “reached the mountain top” or have we a long journey yet ahead of us?

Advertisements

John Reavey, A Cohoes Son

reavy

There are some people that we meet in this life who strike us instantly as being a special breed of human being. John Reavey was one of those human beings. I first met John back in 1984 when I was bartending at a local tavern in Cohoes. I remember he would argue with his brother because he felt he was not tipping me enough. From that moment on I knew this guy John Reavey was one of a kind. A friendship quickly developed and next thing you know it’s been 30 years. Then one day I turn around and he’s gone.

Many people have gotten to know and become friends with John through his diner, aptly titled “Uncle John’s” on Ontario Street in Cohoes. The place is a classic American small town diner, no bigger than a studio apartment. But this is where John held court for the last 20 years. Whatever wall space there is is adorned with photos of Cohoes history. John loved Cohoes but i’ll get to that later.

The diner was not only a great place to eat as John was a great cook, and I certainly have the extra pounds to prove it, but it was a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life. And while the conversations at the counter could include all sorts of topics, it was that of local politics that would most often be heard. I can’t even count how many conversations about politics I had with John over the years.

But there was a lot more to John than the diner. First and foremost for John came his family. He was a devoted husband and father. For John, family always came first. As far as a friend, he was the best friend anyone could have. He was always there for me over the years, always there to lend a hand or an ear. John’s political wisdom and keen sense of humor not only made me a better politician, but a better man.

John was essentially a renaissance man. He was a craftsman, a carpenter and could fix just about anything. He loved antiques and history. Then there was the love for his community. John would absolutely relish the opportunity to regale folks from out of town with the history of Cohoes. He would just love talking about the rich history and telling people what they should go and see while they were in town. And one thing is certain, John gave far more to the community than he ever took. He was constantly thinking of ways to improve the community and over the years he devoted countless hours to that cause.

You really only needed to know John for a few moments to understand he would make a life long impression on you. It’s safe to say the 30 years I knew John has left an impression on me that cannot be measured. My most heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jackie, their children Levi, Megan and Ryan and all those who mourn the loss of John.

It’s been said that you live your life so even the undertaker cries. John lived his life so that an entire community is crying. He was a proud son of Cohoes and Cohoes is a better place because of him.

John, you have touched the lives of so many. I am truly a better man for having known you. We love you and we will miss you. May you have the eternal rest that you so well deserve.

Goodbye my friend.