April 4th marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of the non-violent civil rights movement in the United States.
People here in Washington, D.C. remembered Dr. King, today, in different ways.
Many tourists are in town in hopes of seeing the cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, because of an unseasonably cold snap, most of the blossoms have not yet bloomed.
Two couples from Columbia, Md., were strolling around the Tidal Basin, and stopped at the still relatively new memorial to Dr. King. Asked if she knew the significance of the date of April 4th, 69-year-old Barbara Kaplan answered instantly: "Today is the 45th anniversary of when [King] was assassinated -- in Memphis, I guess."
The shooting by James Earl Ray did happen in Memphis, where King had come to support striking garbage collectors.
Kaplan and her fellow travelers were alive when Dr. King pushed the nation toward voting rights for blacks and toward desegregation of public facilities.
"I heard him speak when I was in college," recalled David Zeitzer, also of Columbia, Md. "And he got the college students really involved in that campaign."
Across town from the King Memorial, on Capitol Hill, about 50 members of various religious and civic groups assembled to mark the sad anniversary in a different way.
After reading a list of names of the shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., the group called on Congress to insist on universal background checks for gun purchases.
Baltimore high school student Dawnya Johnson briefly addressed the gathering: "In the words of Dr. King, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' Gun violence is something that matters."
Johnson and the others then spent part of the day lobbying at individual legislators' offices.
Back at the MLK Memorial, not everyone was there for the cherry blossoms. Andrew Johnson, 58, of Baltimore, came to the memorial because of the date. He sat for several minutes, staring silently at the King statue. Johnson vividly remembers how he felt, when learning as a 13-year-old, that the nation's leading civil rights leader had been shot to death.
"I could never imagine why someone would kill a person of peace. I just couldn't imagine it," recalled Johnson shaking his head.
Johnson brought his niece (and her children) to the MLK Memorial to reflect and to remember what happened on this date in 1968.