Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy celebrated during ceremony
The 1st Medical Training Brigade, a U.S. Army Reserve unit on Fort Gordon, hosted the annual program.
King’s message as well as his legacy was portrayed in several ways during the event. Vocalist Stephanie Hope sang “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”. The song was sung during the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1950s and 1960s when many black and white activists and students protested against discrimination laws and the segregation of races in public places. Several protesters went to jail and many were beaten by law enforcement officers, but they continued to sing songs of freedom in the jails to keep their hope strong.
Antroy Leverette, a local mime artist, also performed a pantomime to the song “More”. The narrator, Lt. Col. Mohandas Martin, pointed out that this portion of the program encouraged all to serve. Martin said it asks, “What are you doing for others?”
Georgia State Senator Hardie Davis, the guest speaker, talked about King’s life and how he opened the nation’s eyes to injustice and cruelty in a peaceful, nonviolent way.
“ It seems that every year Martin Luther King’s real message becomes more obscured,” Davis said. “For most Americans he has been reduced to posters and postage stamps, an excuse for a long weekend once a year.”
“Dr. King believed in neighbors helping neighbors, communities assisting the needy, and justice and equality for all,” said Davis. “We must remember these things. Not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but every day.”
Davis pointed out that the desire for solidarity and compassion lies at the core of King’s beliefs.
“In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service,” he explained. “It’s not just a day where we don’t have to go to work. Not just a day where we can try and squeeze in a few more hours of sleep. It is a day on, not a day off; a day meant for reflection, unity and most importantly for service.”
To the service members in attendance Davis said thank you.
“You sacrifice time with your family to serve,” he said. “You sacrifice everything to defend our country, and that is the most admirable thing a citizen can do. I want to thank you for your service.”
“Our nation’s military service men and women carry on Dr. King’s legacy through their service both at home and overseas,” Davis added. “Service members stationed stateside – here at Fort Gordon and across the nation – take part in projects to help others through volunteerism and other community efforts. Military groups stationed overseas assist communities and villages filled with people they have never met, but who are in need.”
“Just as you are determined to defend our nation, Martin Luther King Jr. was determined to defend the rights of all people,” Davis explained. “He paved the way for today’s America through peaceful demonstrations, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolence and just days after his assassination, congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.”
“ Think about what you can do to make your community a better place and act on it,” he said. “Dr. King’s legacy calls on all of us to get involved and to leave this world a better place than we found it.”