Ceremonies were held across the state today in honor of the Martin Luther King Junior holiday. Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson attended the official state ceremony at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.Bell ringers opened the ceremony, a tradition started in 1986 for the annual events honoring the slain civil rights leader. The ringing symbolizes the ringing of the original Liberty Bell that signaled freedom for America. Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson joined several young children to ring the bells in the atrium of the Historical Building. Pederson also read a proclamation from the governor.She says it’s essential for Americans to act upon the principles of racial equality and non-violence espoused by Dr. King. Pederson said today is a reminder of the importance of diversity.Pederson says this is when people of all races, religions, classes and stations in life should put aside their differences and join in the effort to bring peace to our world. Members of the Heritage Youth Choir sang as everyone walked into tbe building’s auditorium for more speeches and the presentation of the annual King lifetime achievement awards. Winners of the award were Hani Elkadi, and Iowa City teacher; Central Iowa human rights activist Rudy Simms Jr. and former Waterloo Mayor Leo Roof.