I was offered the opportunity to attend the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Saint Petersburg, Fla., and join members of the local Democratic Party to “honor” King.

The speakers at this event never discuss anything that might reflect on how our Prince of Peace would condemn this brutal imperialist war. I had to speak out. Save a life, be able to look in a mirror, and be pleased at who you are. Don’t let a day pass without some effort against this criminal war. Below is my reply to the invitation.

Subject: I am so glad you reminded me.

Dear Fellow Democrats,

At the tender age of 22, I was selected by my union to represent our leaders at a banquet in New York City where Dr Martin Luther King Jr. was the main speaker. I was also honored to present a check and, along with seven other “union guys,” to meet with Martin in an anteroom after his speech in the main room. Martin Luther King Jr., at that time just 26 years old, cast a spell over the 500 in attendance. There was not even the sound of the tinkle of coffee cups to break that stillness as he spoke with such eloquence.

The year was 1955, and the check was to purchase a new station wagon, in support of the bus boycott in Alabama.

Today, I could not attend another breakfast to “honor” Dr. King (I have attended several) to sit and eat my eggs and sweet rolls and have speakers lecture us on meaningless issues, with no one having the courage to tell it like it is. Our country starts a pre-emptive war of aggression that has already slain tens of thousands of innocents and left 10,000 of our youth wounded (3,000 have horrific wounds, burns, amputations and worse). To honor Martin, our place is in the streets, demanding a halt to this carnage! Let’s honor this man of peace by joining with those in our community that are, and have been, demonstrating for peace and for the withdrawal of our soldiers.

That is where the Pinellas County Democrats should be, fighting against this ultra-right agenda, with open vigorous opposition to this war for oil. Isn’t it way past the time when we start telling the truth, and separating ourselves from the Big Lie that we want to bring freedom to the Iraqis?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

P.S. At the breakfast, all the political parties will be represented (it’s the proper place to be, on his day). You’ll be relaxing, as King looks down from above, and not a word is spoken at “his” breakfast about this brutal war that is forcing our military to destroy the Iraqi people. Our soldiers will carry the memories of being ordered to commit these crimes for the rest of their lives.

Jesse Kern (trabahocfjc@yahoo.com) is a Korean War veteran and retired worker from New York, now living in Florida.