Quotes on the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.

Walking past a plaque which is engraved with one of many important quotes by Martin Luther King Jr.
Walking past a plaque which is engraved with one of many important quotes by Martin Luther King Jr.

I frequently walk along the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego. Whenever I do, I like to randomly read some of the historic MLK quotes that are engraved in plaques along the long pathway. I’ve never counted the number of quotes. There are easily dozens. Every quote on every plaque is important and powerful, and reflects the intelligence, energy, optimism and wisdom of America’s great civil rights leader.

Here are photos taken at different times of a few of Dr. King’s quotes…

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.
The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom in one majestic chorus.
The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom in one majestic chorus.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the Earth like brothers.
We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the Earth like brothers.
Two people walk side-by-side down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego.
Two people walk side-by-side down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in downtown San Diego.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
The democratic ideal of freedom and equality will be fulfilled for all--or all human beings will share in the resulting social and spiritual doom...
The democratic ideal of freedom and equality will be fulfilled for all–or all human beings will share in the resulting social and spiritual doom…
The greatest victory of the civil rights period was something internal...We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect...We straightened our backs up...
The greatest victory of the civil rights period was something internal…We armed ourselves with dignity and self-respect…We straightened our backs up…
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just, any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
Any law that uplifts human personality is just, any law that degrades human personality is unjust.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
Breaking the Chains sculpture, by Melvin Edwards, reminds people on MLK Promenade of the positive legacy of a great civil rights leader.
Breaking the Chains sculpture, by Melvin Edwards, reminds people on MLK Promenade of the positive legacy of a great civil rights leader.

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Students interview veterans for USS Midway exhibit.

Visitor to USS Midway Museum on Memorial Day weekend absorbs Portraits of Resilience exhibit, created by students of High Tech High Charter School.
Visitor to USS Midway Museum on Memorial Day weekend absorbs Portraits of Resilience exhibit, created by students of High Tech High Charter School.

This morning I walked a little around the USS Midway. The historic aircraft carrier is now a popular museum docked on San Diego Bay. I was there because it’s Memorial Day weekend, and I have personal experiences that make me grateful for America and our brave servicepeople. But I won’t blog about that here.

I was surprised to see a thought-provoking exhibit being set up in the hangar deck of the Midway. I learned it was a project of students at High Tech High, which is a charter school in Point Loma. 50 students interviewed 50 veterans, to learn about war, and peace, and human resiliency.

I took some photos in less-than-optimal lighting, and my flash wasn’t entirely helpful, so I had to apply a good deal of contrast.

Portraits of Resilience. 50 students. 50 veterans. 50 powerful portraits.
Portraits of Resilience. 50 students. 50 veterans. 50 powerful portraits.
The whole point of the Armed Forces is to protect freedoms so that people can agree or disagree with what's going on.
The whole point of the Armed Forces is to protect freedoms so that people can agree or disagree with what’s going on.
Greatness isn't achieved randomly. You need to set goals.
Greatness isn’t achieved randomly. You need to set goals.
It's people. It was always people. I didn't want to let anyone down.
It’s people. It was always people. I didn’t want to let anyone down.
A veteran reads words of memory and wisdom spoken by others who've served in the military.
A veteran reads words of pain, joy, memory and wisdom spoken by others who’ve served in the military.
Everything is written in pencil. As soon as you have a plan, thirty minutes later it changes.
Everything is written in pencil. As soon as you have a plan, thirty minutes later it changes.
Don't waste your time worrying, worrying, worrying! You're only going to get wrinkles!
Don’t waste your time worrying, worrying, worrying! You’re only going to get wrinkles!
My best decision was marrying my wife. My number two was being a pilot and getting my wings.
My best decision was marrying my wife. My number two was being a pilot and getting my wings.
No matter how your grades are what people thank about you, do what you want to do and you can accomplish it.
No matter how your grades are or what people think about you, do what you want to do and you can accomplish it.
We didn't have names of battles. We had excursions, and we had firefights, but we didn't have names of them.
We didn’t have names of battles. We had excursions, and we had firefights, but we didn’t have names of them.
When you return, things are physically and emotionally different. It's like moving from one world to another.
When you return, things are physically and emotionally different. It’s like moving from one world to another.
They had tears of joy, they couldn't believe that someone had documented what they had done; they were proud, they were happy.
They had tears of joy, they couldn’t believe that someone had documented what they had done; they were proud, they were happy.
You're watching his back, he's watching your back.
You’re watching his back, he’s watching your back.
Now when somebody says,
Now when somebody says, “Thank you for your service”, I look them directly in the eye and say, “It was my privilege”.

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Infinite words but just one small life.

Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego skyline in the background.
Sailboats moored near Shelter Island, downtown San Diego in the background.

Anyone who tries to write soon realizes a daunting truth. There are countless possible stories to tell, and numberless ways to tell each one. Infinity multiplied by infinity amounts to a whole lot of indecision!

Last weekend I stood on a patch of beach on Shelter Island. A sailboat moored nearby fascinated my eye, and I puzzled over its profound complexity for several minutes. How could I accurately paint that sailboat with words? How could I phrase the most perfect description? Is it even possible? With a million words is it possible?

As I watched the bobbing boat and struggled to sequence potent adjectives, a sudden thought shook me: Writing’s purpose, like art’s purpose, isn’t to replicate the world. It’s to stretch our minds. That is all.

Words are limitless. As limitless as the universe. They allow us to travel anywhere, in any direction.

A few well-directed words can focus our minds (for a moment) on overlooked things; they can help us see vague things more vividly. Words can seek and memorialize those things that seem important. Words tossed about can provoke hidden feeling and allow us to draw nearer to others. Words, when magical, can help us to discern whispers of meaning in the echoing vastness around us.

Our lives are finite. But the infinity that is contained in words can expand our lives. That is their purpose.

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Cool new Pocket Park opens in East Village.

New pocket park in East Village in downtown San Diego.
New pocket park in East Village in downtown San Diego.

Today a very cool new public park opened. It’s called Pocket Park. You’ll find it near the corner of 13th Avenue and J Street in East Village, which is a booming neighborhood in the east part of downtown San Diego. Tucked between buildings on either side, the clever little park will make a great gathering place for the neighborhood.

Large letters on the ground and stacked pallets form a gigantic word find. The puzzle contains words like PADRES and PETCO, which are associated with East Village. The Downtown San Diego Partnership helped to make this new park a reality.

Looks like a great place to relax and read a book!

People enjoy new cozy, creative urban park.
People enjoy new cozy, creative urban park.
Letters on the ground and pallets form a big word find puzzle.
Letters on the ground and pallets form a big word find puzzle.
Finding words about local places requires a bit of looking.
Finding words about local places requires a bit of looking.
Folks enjoy opening day of the new pocket park.
Folks enjoy opening day of the new pocket park.
Sign describes this lively and engaging space.
Sign describes this lively and engaging space.
East Village has a cool new gathering place.
East Village has a cool new gathering place.

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Colorful chalk wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

Is it right, true, needed--then say it!
Is it right, true, needed–then say it!

A couple days ago I spotted these colorful words of wisdom on a Little Italy sidewalk.

A big rainstorm is coming. The chalk will be washed away.

Be aware. Love you.
Be aware. Love you.
Kiss a friend.
Kiss a friend.
Chalk flowers on sidewalk.
Chalk flowers on the sidewalk.
You are perfect.
You are perfect. (Even, perhaps, if nobody is.)

To eyes that see, these words give life.

shakespeare sonnet by old globe theatre

This small monument to William Shakespeare is located just across from the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, not far from the Old Globe Theatre. The San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden can be glimpsed in the background, beyond a fence.

The words beneath the Bard’s sculpted head and pen compose the memorable conclusion to his Sonnet 18:

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

reading in plaza by old globe theatre

These nearby tables in Balboa Parks’s theatre complex are a fine place to find life in the written word.