Fort Gordon honors legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 18, 2013
Fort Gordon Public Affairs
The Fort Gordon community came together Jan. 11 in Alexander Hall to pay tribute to a man who worked to combat racial inequality through nonviolence during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, hosted by the 15th Regimental Signal Brigade.
The guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Pritchard of the 447th Signal Battalion, entered the packed hall playing his specially made German saxophone with the tunes of "America the Beautiful" and "Over the Rainbow." He said he chose "Over the Rainbow" because it's a song that "breathes hope into all Americans."
"Dr. King wanted us to sustain that hope," Pritchard explained.
Pritchard, a St. Louis, Mo., native who started his career as a radio teletype operator in 1982, attributes much of his success in the Army through the work of the great civil rights Leader.
"It's truly both an honor and prestige, to stand before you today, as we gather to celebrate the life, legacy and achievements, of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Pritchard said. "The 21st of January has been dubbed as a day of service and the world will honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, who blazed a trail leading to many of the cherished freedoms we enjoy every day. Through his ministry, activism and love for all mankind, Dr. King taught the nation, indeed the world, that our destinies are tied together, like the 50 stars and 13 stripes on our American flag."
The command sergeant major went on to say that this is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought.
"It's a time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and people," he said. "And it's a time to remember the message of change, through nonviolence."
Pritchard strongly encouraged everyone to hold steadfast to Dr. King's belief in continuing the progress made in human rights in America. "He wanted everyone in this country to have the same opportunity, no matter who you are, where you're from, or what we look like," Pritchard affirmed.
The command sergeant major challenged everyone to endeavor to be good stewards, to perpetuate the legacy and continue to live the dream. "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed the quintessential man of social progress," he proclaimed.
Marines Pfc. Vincent Oliva and Pfc. Adam Bonker, who attended the observance and are assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Gordon, felt conditions in the military are better today because of the civil rights leader's work.
"We treat everyone equally in the Marine Corps," said Oliva. "We respect each other and advancement is based on your own performance."
"Basically, in the Marine Corps we believe as Martin Luther King Jr. that we are all brothers," Bonker asserted. "We don't look at each other in regard to age, race or gender. All Marines are brothers and sisters who make up a family."
Pfc. Allison Hansen and Pfc. Alexandreia Tolbert of Company D. 551st Signal Battalion, expressed similar thoughts at the observance. "In the Army we look upon everyone the same way and we treat each other equally," Hansen said.
"It's basically treating people as you would want to be treated," Tolbert cited. "That's how I apply the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. in my life."