By Larry Blustein
As many across the country celebrated the life and what Martin Luther King Jr. did for everyone in this nation, local observances were truly the most important part of Monday's holiday.
No matter what city you had the chance to head to, the message once again was that we all must exist together and lean on one another for support.
This past year brought so much racial separation once again - as police shooting seemed to dominated the news and put a spotlight on how far we still have to come as a society.
The message on Monday was that no matter what race or nationality you happen to be, getting along and respecting one another is not an option. As a country, there is enough we have to defend ourselves against, so fighting against each other certainly makes no sense.
In Hallandale Beach, the annual MLK parade and day-long remembrance certainly brought residents together, many who put aside the bad to focus on what Dr. King did to bring awareness to a nation that has long been divided in some many respects.
For local resident Sharee Thomas, the parade along Hallandale Beach was something that she makes a priority each year. This year, she brought her 7-year-old daughter, Keisha and 9-year-old son, Terry.
"Even though my kids may be too young to fully understand everything that Dr. King did for not only our race, but everyone, they certainly have been taught much of their heritage," Thomas explained. "My husband and I have told them about the struggles we have always faced to achieve equality in this country."
As Thomas, her children and so many others enjoyed the parade, which featured floats from local businesses and agencies, area politicians and community services, it was a day to reflect on how life continues to evolve.
Tommy Howard came out to watch his niece and neighbor march in the Gulfstream Middle School band. As they lined the streets and entertained the crowd, the band was only a part of an event that honored BSO Sheriff Scott Israel, who served as this year's Grand Marshal.
Israel and several of his BSO officers and staff waved to the large audience as well as threw candy to the youngsters along the parade route.
Several organizations - including Hallandale Beach departments, Police Athletic League and other groups that certainly make up a huge part of this community took part in not only the parade, but the entire day as well.