The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow called Monday for an end to acrimony in politics as Americans paused to remember the slain civil rights leader.
In Washington, the original Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln was on display at the National Archives for the first time since 2001, reports Brennan Hazelton of CBS radio affiliate WTOP.
"It's breath-taking, it's awe-inspiring," said Washington mayor Tony Williams.
In Birmingham, Ala., four young children representing different races lit a unity candle together, reports CBS News' Donna Francavilla.
Looking on, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights leader, said, 'Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift of progress and better possibilities, greater possibilities." Now almost 82 years old, Shuttlesworth hopes the next generation of children will learn about the struggles and keep the dream alive.
In Atlanta, Coretta Scott King talked last year about avoiding war in Iraq, and her plea for nonviolence returned this year. "Peaceful ends can only be reached through peaceful means," she said in her annual King Day address.
But this year, with the presidential contest looming, Mrs. King also talked about peace at home.
"The noblest goal is not conquest of enemies but reconciliation with adversaries. We must remember in this election year that Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, we are all sisters and brothers," said Mrs. King, speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached until his assassination in 1968.
Mrs. King's message was conciliatory, but others across the country sprinkled pro-peace words with barbs at President Bush.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, at the same service, received a hearty standing ovation when she referred to last week's protest of the president's visit to King's tomb. About 800 protesters said Bush shouldn't have come because of his policies on the Iraq war, affirmative action and social service funding.
Referring to President Bush, the mayor said, "Perhaps some prefer to honor the dreamer while ignoring or fighting the dream."
Martin Luther King III, soon to take helm of the King Center, said Mr. Bush's policies will not lead to a safer world. "It's very sad that we're engaged in war today," he said.
"We have to be concerned not just about us, we have to be concerned about all our brothers and sisters throughout our nation and world. How many Iraqi children have been killed? When will the war end? We all have to be concerned about terrorism, but you will never end terrorism by terrorizing others," he said.
President Bush says America should honor Martin Luther King by practicing compassion.
Bush addressed a Martin Luther King Day luncheon at the White House for wives of African American clergy. Bush said the strength of America "is found in the hearts and souls" of its citizens.
"In my judgment, many times the most effective programs to realize that national ambition is through our faith community," he said. "In my judgment, the way to honor the great Martin Luther King is to call upon Americans to unleash that compassion."
The president called the clergy and their wives "generals in the army of compassion," and said the nation is grateful.
Hostess Laura Bush told the luncheon that the holiday honors someone who "devoted his whole life to changing our country for the better."
The first lady said King was committed to "strengthening the content of the American character."
In Tallahassee, Fla., about a dozen students walked out Monday before Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, spoke at historically black Florida A&M University. In a statement, the students criticized his views on affirmative action, among other things.
The governor said the students have every right to express their views. Jeb Bush also said Florida A&M's success "could not have occurred without the struggles that Dr. King and many others a generation ago undertook."
The daylong celebrations of King Day were to include memorials, church services and volunteer projects around the country. Organizers of holiday events have long emphasized the importance of community service, exhorting citizens to "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On. ... Not a Day Off."
In Dallas, hundreds of spectators cheered and clapped as floats and marching bands paraded through city streets.
"The struggle is not over," said parade organizer Daryl Blair. "That's just not for blacks, that's for whites alike. We have to understand that this is a melting pot and the civil rights movement was about unity, not just for the black race but for mankind."
The Rev. Vashti Murphy-McKenzie, the first female bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, told a holiday breakfast gathering in Boston that some progress has been eroded.
"The chipping away of minority set-asides, the chipping away of scholarships for minority students, affirmative action forever under attack — that says it's good, but it's not good enough," she said.
An annual march through Atlanta's historic Sweet Auburn district, where King grew up, was planned for the afternoon, and more than 15,000 people were expected to eat at the Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry dinner at Turner Field. Williams, one of King's top lieutenants in the civil rights battle, died in 2000 after a battle with cancer.
Utah residents wishing to publicly commemorate King Day were hard pressed to find celebrations throughout the state.
Utah, where whites make up 89 percent of the population, was the last state in the country to officially recognize the holiday, first designating it "Human Rights Day," before changing it to honor King in 2000.
The legislature opened its 2004 session on Monday, despite the federal holiday, and there were only a handful of celebrations planned.