By U.S. Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Hennage
ASG-QA EO

DOHA, Qatar - Every year on the third Monday of the month of January, we celebrate the birth of a man known worldwide whom left a legacy which paved the way for civil rights, dignity, and equal treatment throughout the races which make up the United States of America.

Each year a specific theme is provided for the many different national observances recognized by the Department of Defense. Although many organizations, schools, and federal offices are closed for this holiday the theme, "Remember, Celebrate, Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!" remains a theme that does not change and reminds us that although it is a holiday, we should always remember the contributions to our society of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929 to Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., where he attended Morehouse College like his father and grandfather had before him. He continued to follow in their footsteps by later becoming a pastor of a Baptist church located in Montgomery, Ala., in 1954. Only a year later Dr. King began earning the top positions in organizations which began fighting for civil rights of African-Americans.

His non-violent approach began with the boycott of a segregated bus company. The boycott, which lasted for over a year, resulted in segregated seating on the buses being ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

During this period he was subjected to abuse, threats, and constant criticism; more importantly, he became the leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. For over a decade, Dr. Martin Luther King continued to inspire and motivate members of society to abolish the injustices taking place in our country against African-Americans. King publicly spoke over 2,500; some of his more popular works included the commonly known, "I Have a Dream" speech and his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

In 1964, he became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize in which he donated the winnings to the civil rights movement.

Fifteen years after his assassination April 4, 1968, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law making the third Monday of January a national holiday to recognize and celebrate the birth of a man which helped break boundaries of unequal treatment towards our fellow men and women.

Much like the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many people opposed making it a national holiday as only two other Americans had received the same recognition. The bill was eventually signed Nov. 2, 1983 and the first national holiday took place Jan. 20, 1986.

Page last updated Wed January 9th, 2013 at 00:00