Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Each year in January Americans answer his question by coming together on Dr. King’s birthday to serve their neighbors and communities. We celebrate the life of Dr. King and acknowledge his achievements as a citizen, a civil rights leader, and a tireless advocate of the American ideals of liberty, equality, and justice for all. But this commemoration is not just about remembering a man who had a great impact on our nation. It is a day to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy by engaging in community service. In fact, the national theme of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day on, Not a Day Off!” It is intended to encourage everyone to dedicate the day to community service and make their communities better places to live and work.
Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s preeminent advocate of nonviolent resistance. He always stressed that men and women everywhere – regardless of color or creed – were equal members of the human family. He was a key figure in the 1963 March on Washington, where over a quarter-million people where listening when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This moving speech, which even today is regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory, helped inspire the nation to act on civil rights.
The federal holiday honoring Dr. King and his legacy is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of his January 15 birthday. This Monday, as we celebrate what would have been Dr. King’s 91st birthday, let’s also honor the spirit of what the day represents: An opportunity to start the year off right by making a positive impact in our local community and in the larger world. Let’s continue to carry out his dream, celebrate his life and accomplishments, and act to build a community that reflects our great potential.
Today we see Dr. King’s messages of equality, non-discrimination and respect embedded in our society, in our Army, and across our Districts and Division. We embrace the different attributes, experiences and backgrounds of our Soldiers, civilians and family members – it enhances our global capabilities. Further, Command Sergeant Major Delapena and I are dedicated to ensuring that everyone who is able and willing to serve within our Division has the opportunity to do so, regardless of the color of their skin, their gender, sexuality or religious beliefs. We owe it to our workforce to ensure those courageous young men and women from different backgrounds and walks of life who volunteer to join our team are given the opportunity to serve equally with their fellow citizens – to realize and embrace their unique potential.
Our Army and our nation are faced with many challenges that threaten our safety, security and peace of mind. We must celebrate our diversity and channel all our skills, resources and talents into shaping our country for the generations to come.