Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian. The entire global community joined in grieving during a powerful and emotional memorial service witnessed by more people than had ever viewed a live event before. Messages of condolences from Nelson Mandela and others were read as was a poem written for the occasion by the esteemed Maya Angelou. Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown, eulogized his protégé by saying, ”. the King of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” United in grief, the world wept not only at the loss of an artistic genius but at the void left by the loss of a father, son and brother.
A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever. But the true measure of Michael was his giving to others, which came in many forms. He comforted the unfortunate at hospitals, in long term care facilities and at halfway houses. He equipped Neverland Ranch with medical facilities to accommodate patients seeking refuge from their lonely hospital rooms, and thousands came. He visited troops on bases around the world serving their country. Guinness World Records acknowledged his efforts with an award for Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.
In a world where numbers are the measure of a man, Michael Jackson is a resounding success, whether by his 16 No. 1 singles and eight No. 1 albums in the U.S or the fact that his album “Thriller” is owned by more people on the planet than any album ever made and “Thriller” the short film is the only music video to have been inducted into the National Film Registry. And when mastery of a craft is the measure, Michael Jackson’s divine abilities remain the yardstick by which others are measured and against which today’s masters still measure themselves.
But we best remember Michael by paying tribute to his legacy of philanthropic work and ask music fans everywhere to make a difference in their community — whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way.
“I believe each person can make a difference in the life of someone in need,” he said. This is how we honor Michael.