Fort Drum's 2014 Martin Luther King Day observance
Dr. Dericklynn Parker addresses the audience during Fort Drum's annual Martin Luther King Day observance Jan. 15 on post.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers, Family Members and Fort Drum community members gathered Jan. 15 on post to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special observance.

The national recurring theme of this holiday is "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off." It calls upon the American people to engage in public service and promote nonviolent social change.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year, and it marks the birthday of the civil rights leader and the nonviolent activist.

The call for a national holiday to honor King's legacy began soon after his assassination in 1968, but the bill to establish the holiday successfully passed through both houses of Congress in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law. The first Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated in 1986.

The observance began with Sgt. 1st Class Joey Mitchell, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Equal Opportunity adviser, welcoming everyone present.

"Today is a day of celebration of equality, freedom and the legacy of one of America's visionary leader," Mitchell said.

After the welcome, Sgt. 1st Class Linda Wolf, 10th Mountain Division Band, sang the national anthem.

After the vocal rendition and an invocation, the guest speaker, Pastor (Dr.) Dericklyn Parker, was introduced.

"It is indeed a blessing, a privilege and an honor to be here this afternoon," Parker said.

"The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday provides to us an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of a pivotal civil rights leader that used civil service, as a tribute to his selfless action," she said.

"It is my hope and prayer that we could celebrate with a renewed passion and a commitment to the ideals set forth by Dr. King," she continued. "King inspired Americans to transform their communities and encourages us to do the same through service and civil dialogue."

Parker went on to encourage us to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a day of reflection.

"Like Dr. King, everyone here has a dream," she said. "I know I do. What is your dream? If you can dream it, believe it, you can achieve it."

She concluded by saying, "Let us fulfill our dreams as individuals, to each other and as a community, so we too can take part in making this world what we need it to be."

Members of the audience cheered and applauded in agreement.

After Parker's speech, Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard, 10th Mountain Division (LI) commanding general-rear, addressed the audience.

"Dr. King and his followers had a profound impact on the Army, and I'm grateful," Howard said.

"Part of continuing to close the gap from where we are to where we should be," he commented, "is to continue having these observances and to have good and strong powerful leaders with a strong message."

Howard then presented Parker with a token of appreciation on behalf of the command and all of the Soldiers in the division.

Spc. Cordero Robinson, D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, said he was impressed with the speech, and he thought it was very relevant to today's Army.

"King's legacy will live in our hearts always," Robinson said. "We will always be challenged to judge others by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin."

Page last updated Thu January 23rd, 2014 at 00:00