Martin Luther KingFamous Speech by Indira GandhiNew Delhi, India: January 24, 1969
This is a poignant moment for all of us. We remember vividly your last visit to our country. We had hoped that on this occasion, Dr. King and you would be standingside by side on this platform. That was not to be. He is not with us but we feel hisspirit. We admired Dr. King. We felt his loss as our own. The tragedy rekindledmemories of the great martyrs of all time who gave their lives so that men might liveand grow. We thought of the great men in your own country who fell to the assassin's bullet and of Mahatma Gandhi's martyrdom here in this city, this very month, twenty-one years ago. Such events remain as wounds in the human consciousness, remindingus of battles, yet to be fought and tasks still to be accomplished. We should not mournfor men of high ideals. Rather we should rejoice that we had the privilege of havinghad them with us, to inspire us by their radiant personalities. So today we are gatherednot to offer you grief, but to salute a man who achieved so much in so short a time. Itis befitting, Madam, that you whom he called the "courage by my side", you whogave him strength and encouragement in his historic mission, should be with us toreceive this award.You and your husband both had foreseen that death might come to him violently. Itwas perhaps inherent in the situation. Dr. King chose death for the theme of a sermon,remarking that he would like to be remembered as a drum major for justice, for peaceand for righteousness. When you were once asked what you would do if your husbandwere assassinated, you were courage personified, replying that you might weep butthe work would go on. Your face of sorrow, so beautiful in its dignity coupled withinfinite compassion, will forever be engraved in our hearts.Mahatma Gandhi also had foreseen his end and had prepared himself for it. Just astraining for violence included learning to kill, the training for non-violence, he said,included learning how to die. The true badge of the satyagrahi is to be unafraid.As if he too had envisaged the martyrdoms of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Rabindranath Tagore once sang:In anger we slew him,With love let us embrace him now,For in death he lives again amongst us,The mighty conqueror of death.This award, Madam, is the highest tribute our nation can bestow on work for understanding and brotherhood among men. It is named after a man who himself wasa peace-maker and who all his life laboured passionately for freedom, justice and peace in India and throughout the world. Dr. Martin Luther King's struggle was for these same values. He paid for his ideals with his blood, forging a new bond amongthe brave and the conscientious of all races and all nations.