HAMMOND | America rightfully celebrated the half-century anniversary of one of the greatest speeches of all time on Wednesday.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” 50 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it changed the United States.
It changed many hearts and minds. Thankfully.
But two days before the recent celebration in Washington, in Hammond, a dream did not happen. Calling it a nightmare wouldn't suffice either.
There are no words to describe what happened to LaKice Brooks, who was shot in the head and killed in what police are calling a drug deal gone bad.
He was wearing his Highland football jersey, No. 11, as his life evaporated into nothingness.
I am sure Dr. King would weep at the carnage that is going on in our cities in this generation. Brooks, and the two assailants charged in the crime, are all African-Americans.
On Friday night in Hammond, just a couple blocks from where the blood was spilled senselessly, the Highland Trojans ran onto the field to play Hammond's Wildcats.
Trojans' coach Trent Grider has spent a week in hell, trying to remember a star on last year's team and give comfort to the friends who were devastated by the loss.
“How can we glorify what happened?” Grider asked after the game was postponed to tonight at Highland at 7 p.m. due to the severe weather. “It's awful. It's been a hard week. So I just told our kids to remember their teammate who rushed for 226 yards on 40 carries against West Side. Remember the teammate who helped us beat Griffith for the first time in 16 tries.
“That's as far as we want to go with it.”
Highland allowed the Trojans, if they chose, to put No. 11 on the wrist bands or towels on Friday night, but there will be no season-long remembrance.
And there shouldn't be. Not as the gravity of the details of Monday's crime unfold.
“I was shocked when I heard,” Highland senior Troy Welman said. “It made me angry.”
“We saw him three months ago,” senior Jeff Pasquinelli said. “Now he's gone. Something like that should never happen.”
There are two conflicting points of view on what causes such things. Some say guns. Some say Hollywood and the music industry pumping up street life.
In movies and CDs thug life is cool. On the streets of Hammond, and America, thug life is death.
“The kids have to understand this incident happened,” Grider said. “They have to know why.”
The speech preached and encouraged people to take personal responsibility for their actions. A look in the mirror each morning and a solemn oath to do the right thing would keep young men alive.
They would not go to buy drugs. They would not sell drugs. They would not put a bullet in someone's head.
Dr. King, we miss you. And why has your dream died?