Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed lotta people but it seems the good they die young
I just looked around and he's gone
Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, it's gonna be one day
Do any of you remember the song Abraham, Martin and John? Well, to be fair, you might not because it was released in 1968 and became a big hit for the artist Dion, even though it was a folkie digression from his rock persona.
It gave tribute to four respected American leaders who were assassinated; Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Three of the four were struck down in that supposed love decade of the sixties.
Today is the anniversary of King's assassination in 1968, the same year as Dion's lament. MLK was the American clergyman and civil rights leader who had already received the Nobel Peace Prize for his courageous commitment to nonviolent change. But he was never safe and after JFK was killed he predicted to his wife Coretta that he would likely experience a similar fate.
The evening before King was shot he gave a speech in Memphis Tennessee even though he was quite sick and exhausted. He mentions Lincoln and he reflects on a previous assassination attempt in which he was stabbed in the chest by a deranged woman who missed his heart by millimetres. His final words in his address that night were:
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.
And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!