Army observes 80th birthday of Martin Luther King
January 16, 2009
By Ian Graham
FORT MYER, Va. (Army News Service, Jan. 16, 2009) -- "We're about to embark on a new chapter in our nation's history; one that couldn't have happened without the work Dr. King did," Fort Myer Military Community Garrison Commander Col. Laura J. Richardson said Thursday at a gathering to observe the 80th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
It's only fitting, she continued, that Barack Obama should be inaugurated the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Richardson introduced an associate of Dr. King who addressed servicemembers and civilians from the Military District of Washington at the Fort Myer Community Activities Center.
The Rev. Walter Fauntroy -- a pastor, former congressional delegate from the District of Columbia and associate of King's -- gave a stirring presentation on the power and impact of King's work and tied it to the upcoming inauguration.
Fauntroy said that King was a dreamer - he was often told that with derision - but now, 40 years after his assassination, the dream is becoming a reality. He cited a Reader's Digest survey (the most scientific, reliable poll, he joked) that said 80 percent of the world is excited about the new American president and the promise he brings.
He echoed Obama's message, saying change in the world won't be immediate, but it will happen.
"If we all do a little, nobody has to do a lot," he said.
But that won't stop him from doing everything he can, he said. He explained that he plans on retiring from being a pastor on Jan. 19, to lobby the government and pursue real action against poverty, continuing the work King started in the 1960s with his marches in Alabama and Washington, D.C.
He said he'll try to take a relatively small sum from the government bailout plan, $25 billion, and buy foreclosed homes so the ousted owners have a place to live. He and a new "council of elders" will trek around the country to gather young men and women from this generation to take the same positive stance that members of King's generation took.
Like King, he said, he's likely pursuing impractical goals. But the more people that share the goal, the more likely there will be success, he said.
"He dreamed what many called an impossible dream," Fauntroy said. "But we went to Birmingham and Montgomery and we made that dream a living reality."
(Ian Graham writes for the Pentagram newspaper.)