Driving to church on a glorious Sunday morning; favorite tune playing on the system, traffic is good and I’m making all the lights. I should get there in plenty of time to get my favorite pew; you would think that older couple would have picked another seat after 30 years of membership. Go figure. Then I saw it.

I was startled to say the least. Luckily the light was in my favor and I made a sharp right turn into the parking lot. I flung open the truck door and just stood there flabbergasted. A long term mattress store had a painted window display announcing their “Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Sale”. The sign was artistically rendered with the classic dynamic depiction of Dr. King, in mid speech, eyes and head gently tilted towards the sky. As I walked around the building, the same well executed display was painted on the three windowed walls of the show room, so the sale was announced to drivers approaching from the north, south and east. I fumbled for my phone and after a couple of bad selfie close-ups, managed to take a photo of the window. I returned to my truck, door open and engine still running, good thing it was early on a Sunday morning, and continued my journey to church. Once again my naiveté runs headlong into reality.

I came up in the days before there was a King Holiday. Even at Tuskegee Institute, we marched and skipped class in true black militant fashion in demand of recognition of the day. I was a good student so could afford to take an unexcused absence every third Monday in January. In 1986 when it for the most part became a Federal holiday, I was a newly minted veterinarian and for several years participated in the day of service and not a day off.

Progressing further in my career, some employees recognized the holiday and most didn’t basically for fiduciary reasons. In time, the day of service became another Monday holiday only our friends and family who were city, state, or federal employees got off. I was even fired once on MLK Day: I figured I would overcome, just not in that particular position. Even my clinic is open on the holiday since sick animals don’t recognize holidays. Still this was my first exposure to the commercialization of the holiday.

I mean what kind of society have we become when we blatantly commercialize a day to honor the birth and life of a man whose purpose was to bring and promote peace, love, and brotherhood …. Oh right… Christmas… My Bad.

Well the day was not a complete loss. I was able to arrive at services before that couple and claim my desired pew. I also discovered with a bit of internet research the MLK Day Sale is a staple of department stores and has pretty much replaced the January White Sale. I find poetic irony in that.

Dr. Bland is a small and exotic animal practitioner in Oakland Park, Florida. He can be reached at 954-673-8579.