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Fort Rucker commemorates life, legacy of MLK

Peter Jackson, musician, performs a rendition of “What a Wonderful World” accompanied by his mother, Sheila, during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program at the post theater last year. This year’s event will be held at the post theater Jan. 16 from 10-11 a.m. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Peter Jackson, musician, performs a rendition of “What a Wonderful World” accompanied by his mother, Sheila, during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Program at the post theater last year. This year’s event will be held at the post theater Jan. 16 from 10-11 a.m. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: January 9, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 9, 2014) -- The Army considers diversity within its ranks a strength, and Fort Rucker is making sure to commemorate a man who made it his life’s work to see that racial equality was not just a dream, but a reality.

Fort Rucker will celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during an event at the post theater Jan. 16 from 10-11 a.m. to help people celebrate, cultivate, motivate and keep the dream alive, according to Sgt. 1st Class Jason Garcia, 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser.

The event will feature inspirational readings, speeches, prayers and songs performed by choir groups, as well as guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. William S. Hayes, 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment command sergeant major, who was chosen because of his work involving the EEO program in the Army, said Garcia.

The theme for this year’s program is “Celebrate, Cultivate, Motivate: Keep the Dream Alive” and is meant to educate people on what King stood for.

“First, we’re celebrating all of Dr. Martin Luther King’s accomplishments during all of his years in the Civil Rights Movement,” said the EO adviser. “Dr. King was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the Voting Rights act.

“Those are just two of the significant things that he accomplished, and I could go on with a laundry list of things he’s accomplished,” he continued, “but the magnitude of those two accomplishments and how they’ve shaped our world today is very important.”

During his time as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, King achieved more progress toward racial equality in America than more than the three previous centuries in the country’s history, according to www.thekingcenter.org, and that’s why Garcia said it’s important to remember his teachings and what he believed in.

“We have to cultivate his teachings, and share and continue that work with the younger generations, as well as teach and pass on Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision for a brighter future,” he said. “We also need to motivate and continue to seek a better quality of life and overall equality for all in our American society because Dr. King’s vision was not specific to African Americans, but to all minorities, men and women.”

King’s method and approach to the Civil Rights Movement was of a nonviolent nature and he drew much of his inspiration from both his Christian faith, as well as the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi, according to The King Center website. King used nonviolent means of resistance through protests, grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to achieve equality for all men and women, regardless of color or creed.

“We’ve come a long way, but I would say that we’re not quite there yet,” said Garcia. “But I think if Dr. King were alive today, he’d be very proud of the progress that we’ve made based on his and other (Civil Rights Movement) leader’s dreams and visions. I think the importance of this day is part of that, and we should continue to move on by celebrating and remembering.”

The celebration of Martin Luther King. Jr. Day is always held on the third Monday in January, declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and is the only federal holiday that celebrates a non-president, as well as an African American, said Garcia.

Garcia also invites people to visit The King Center website, www.thekingcenter.org, for a wealth of information on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and suggests people familiarize themselves with not only his most famously known “I Have a Dream” speech, but also his other works, such as his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“It’s one of the great pieces of literature that I’ve gotten from the site and it’s something that I like to share with others because it’s very inspirational and definitely something people should take a look at,” he said.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/118027/

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