MEMPHIS, TN (WMV-TV) - His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived in Memphis Tuesday to receive the National Civil Rights Museum's Freedom Award.
It is his first visit to Memphis and will be remembered for many reasons including the way he was greeted by the city's mayor - complete with fist bumps.
It seemed like an ordinary walk in the park, but this walk was taken by an extraordinary man, requiring extra security from the air, water, and on the ground.
Both Shelby County Mayor Wharton and Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Lowery were on hand to greet His Holiness. Mayor Lowery told the Dalai Lama, "Here we also have a tradition," as he showed His Holiness how to fist bump. "You say you've got a sense of humor," Lowery said, "I've always wanted to say Hello Dalai."
He has a sense of humor all right, but he is known worldwide for his serious devotion to peace, equality, and civil rights, and admitted an admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Dr. King, although I never met, but I heard his sort of motivation, his determination, his service for civil rights."
His Holiness blessed the Mississippi River with a white prayer scarf.
As they stopped by the statue of Tom Lee to pay respects, Lowery told the Dalai Lama how Tom Lee saved 32 lives by pulling them from the river.
His Holiness left a mark on the two men welcoming him to town.
Mayor Wharton said, "This visit lets the world know that Dr. King 's beliefs still live on are still viable and I think it's just so fitting that his holiness has seen fit to visit our great city."
Mayor Lowery has similar feelings. "I think it's extremely significant that this man of peace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, comes to this city where another great man of peace gave his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.."
Wharton and Lowery declared both Tuesday and Wednesday "The Dalai Lama's Days of Peace and Harmony."