Dr. King holiday a time for reflection
Maj. Gen. James M. Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- It's been nearly 43 years since the tragic passing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential Americans in modern times. His dream continues into 2011 as the principles and ideals that Dr. King so eloquently and persistently advocated become incorporated into our daily lives.

Pause and think for a second where we find ourselves more than four decades later. In the past three years, we have witnessed the election of the first African-American president and have celebrated the 60-year anniversary of a desegregated military.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a holiday when all of us should reflect. It's not just to celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans. Dr. King's dream was a society "founded and fueled on equality, justice, dignity, freedom and strength," which could come only from a truly united nation.
His late widow, Coretta Scott King, perhaps best captured the essence of the holiday in a speech that she gave Aug. 18, 2005, a little more than a year before her own death. Here's an excerpt from that speech that is worth revisiting:

"The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example - the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King's character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

"The King holiday honors the life and contributions of America's greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a colorblind society, but who also led a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality. It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing.

"No other day of the year brings so many people from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother- and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King Jr. had for America.

"This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples' holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.

"We call you to commemorate this holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the beloved community of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream."

We will hold Fort Jackson's annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Friday at the Solomon Center, a few days before the national holiday, so that Soldiers and civilians would have maximum opportunity to participate. The president of Benedict College, Dr. David Swinton, will be the guest speaker.

As we honor Dr. King's legacy, we must also reflect upon his work and the progress we are making toward the reality of that dream.When we talk about progress, we need to remember that it's "neither automatic nor inevitable."

That's what Martin Luther King Jr. once said, adding that: "Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle."
I agree, as I'm sure you do, as well.

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Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16