The passing of American patriot John Lewis brings back memories that have critical relevance today.

It was April 4, 1968, at the Norfolk Naval Base. We were preparing to board Marines for deployment with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. In the wake of the 1967 Israeli War, we would be on alert there for six months.

Shocking news interrupted regular TV programming. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis. We intently watched as the heroic story of King and the civil rights movement in the South was retold.

Lewis was a vital part of that story. He was one of 13 original “Freedom Riders,” seven white and six Black, that dared to ride on a bus together from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans in 1961. They crossed states with laws banning Blacks from riding with whites on public transportation. For their brave efforts they were severely beaten with baseball bats, chains and lead pipes. They never fought back.

Lewis was one of six organizers of the 1963 March on Washington that concluded with King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. American history was forever changed that day and Lewis was a significant part of it.

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On “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, Lewis was with King and hundreds of civil rights activists peacefully marching from Selma, Alabama, to the Capitol in Montgomery to advocate for unrestricted voting rights. While crossing the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge they were attacked with fire hoses and dogs and beaten by police. Lewis suffered a cracked skull on that bridge. Thankfully, he recovered.

Lewis remained a strong voice for peaceful pursuit of racial justice. His life was an example of the nonviolent protest model advocated by King. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

Today, many well-meaning Americans, peacefully protesting under Black Lives Matter signs and insignia, are unfortunately not aware of BLM co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza openly admitting to being “trained Marxist organizers.”

“The goal of Marxism is to force upon the laborers in society an awareness of their exploitation by the managerial class. Once the people become aware of this exploitation, they can ‘overthrow their oppressors’ and bring about a new type of society.” Source: Wikipedia.

Mainstream media describe nightly Marxist protests in Portland as “mostly peaceful,” conveniently ignoring video of anarchists in para-military gear, some displaying BLM insignia, setting fire to the federal courthouse. Intentional Marxist attacks on United States facilities, resulting in serious injuries to legitimate protesters and law enforcement officers, are not “peaceful protests.”

It is time to honor the life’s work of Congressman Lewis by daring to collectively call for an end to unwarranted anti-police street protests, so often followed by destructive riots. In their place: constructive, peaceful community dialogue.

It is time to symbolically link arms with Lewis to walk non-violently again across that infamous bridge, united as “OneAmerica,” dedicated to individual freedom, God-given rights, liberty and justice for all.