MLK Jr. Day inspires community to serve
January 25, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- Forty-one years ago, a man had a dream that different kinds of people could live together in peace.
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community members recently honored this man not only by remembering his life, but by living out his dream.
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, hosted by the garrison Equal Opportunity Office, was packed. In fact, at about 250 attendees, it was the largest turnout in the history of the event, according to Col. Richard M. Pastore, garrison commander.
"It's very heartening to see such a diverse group of community members, young and old, of all races and creeds, come to honor a man who made such an impact on our history," said Tanya Young, a military spouse. "This was Dr. King's dream."
King also dreamed of a community that thrived because people served one another, a message that guest speaker Maj. Gen. John W. Morgan III expounded on.
"Each and every one of us has the capacity and the opportunity to share with one another through our service," said Morgan, the chief of staff for U.S. European Command. "We can't individually change the world, but part of the world changes wherever we are, whenever we serve."
Morgan challenged garrison community members to put that belief into practice by volunteering in their local neighborhoods, something that they did well in 2009.
Approximately 137,000 service hours were donated to last year by volunteers, according to Army Community Service, saving the community close to $2 million.
However, 2010 is a new year, Morgan added. "I would argue that King's message and his dream is to serve every day."
Adding to Morgan's message, the Martin Luther King Community Choir performed a variety of gospel-style songs on service and perseverance, which had audience members nodding their heads to the music.
"The choir really sets the tone for how you feel," said Col. Mario LePaix, chief of staff for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa. "It really made me think about what I've been doing for the last 30 years," he added, referring to his three decades of service in the military.
In another part of the observance, Lt. Col. Henry "Hank" Young Jr., the EUCOM J4 deputy division chief, military secretariat, read an excerpt from King's speech, "The Drum Major Instinct."
"I think I got a little teary," said Lt. Col. William Robinson, assigned to EUCOM J6 who met King in the 1960s. "There was electricity in the atmosphere."
King's speech described how every person wants to feel important, but the most important thing they can do is serve others.
Several members of EUCOM, Defense Information Systems Agency, U.S. Africa Command and other tenant units took this very literally by cooking and serving food following the event, which included "Joy Wings," and "Peaceful Prime Rib."
"It's truly all about service, not about being in the limelight," said Lt. Col. Cail Morris Jr., one of the cooks who, when he isn't working for EUCOM J6, volunteers with a men's integrity group at his church. "The most rewarding thing about this is people leave inspired. It's a new year. People are looking for direction [and] service is something we all should be doing."