National service is a primary mechanism through which we can foster such a universal assumption of shared responsibility. If we decide as a nation that national service should be part of the American experience and is worth investing in, then the next time we face a challenge as daunting as the one stared down by Dr. King and those in the civil rights movement, we will be strong enough to overcome it.
As capital punishment laws come under closer scrutiny, we can expect to see significant progress away from the practice. However, this will not simply happen with the passage of time. It will require a greater level of engagement from the millions of people who now understand that it is time for capital punishment to end.
As the nation celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, many are discussing what Dr. King would say to the nation and world today and tell us to do. But his message to us today is as clear as it was fifty years ago if only we could hear, heed, and follow his warnings about what we need to do to make America America.