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The front seat interior of the hearse that carried the body of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The 1966 Cadillac ambulance/hearse that arrived at the Capitol Park Museum will be the centerpiece of an MLK-themed exhibit.

On Monday the country — well some of it — will again celebrate the life of a civil rights icon, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an imperfect man who was nevertheless able to get the country to take a look at itself in connection to race and prejudice.

There will be many programs, marches and speeches on Monday in a concerted effort to show that there has been some progress toward civil rights here since his assassination in 1968. With any luck, the programs will be attended by people of many races and ethnic backgrounds. As the young folk say, “It’s a good look.”

I continue to hope that these gatherings will launch weeks and months of dialogue that will lead to some good. Talking and listening can’t hurt. But on most King holidays, I spend the day reflecting and reading from King’s speeches and stories about him. I always find something new.

While the King Day celebrations are important to me, there is something else I want that will make the day to honor this American hero perfect. It won’t capture the imagination like King’s speeches and their iconic phrases like “Let freedom ring" and “Free at last.”

I will be hoping that my cellphone will be silent on Monday. I don’t want to hear that pinging noise that I get all too often, which is frequently the sound of a news alert about the latest outbreak of whining from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As aggravating as that can be, what I really don't want on Monday is a news alert about yet another shooting or killing in my community. King — and others — risked their lives to improve the lives of people who live on those streets and in those communities where violence is now too common.

Can we have a day of non-violence in every community on Monday? While a day of calm would be great every day, can this mayhem at least stop for the 24 hours of Martin Luther King Day?

Please, no pinging on my phone announcing a child has shot another child in the street, or three people were wounded on so-and-so street, or a man was found dead from gunshot wounds, or a woman was wounded or beaten and taken to a local hospital.

Please, can we have one day to honor a man of non-violence by not perpetrating violence? Can we have a day of locked arms and smiles?

Maybe, like in the world of sports, it can become a streak of several days — or a couple of weeks — without someone being shot, beaten or stabbed.

Ideally, there shouldn't be violence on any day. But let’s declare an armistice of sorts on the King holiday and inisist that no issue has to be settled with a weapon or violence.

I will be optimistic on Monday and rest on what King said: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” 

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.