By Gabrielle KuholskiJanuary 16, 2014
The Fort Huachuca Military Equal Opportunity Office, or MEO, and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, or USAICoE, celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a day early as Soldiers and Civilians gathered in the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre Tuesday. The observance coincided with Martin Luther King Day, or MLK Day, this Monday.
While many will take off work in observance of this national holiday, the ceremony theme described MLK Day as, "Remember, Celebrate, Act: It's Not a Day Off, It's a Day On."
"This day is marked to remember and remind ourselves that the March on Washington was about the hardship of all races and genders in the face of prejudice, bigotry, intolerance and hatred," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Fairley, USAICoE command sergeant major, in his opening remarks. "I would like to challenge you to join with me today as we take the next 60 minutes to pause and reflect on the sacrifices and efforts that brought about the wave of change for the advancement of equality over the course of 10 long years."
According to Sgt. 1st Class Shontavious Wilkerson, MEO representative, attendees should take away from the observance that King fought for the equality and unity of all races, not just one, and he did so in a peaceful manner.
Demonstrating that peace and unity during the observance, Soldiers of the Military Intelligence Corps Band performed the songs, "We Shall Overcome" and "Amazing Grace."
Adding to the sense of community, five students from Colonel Smith Middle School recited an excerpt from King's speech, "I Have a Dream." Representing General Myer Elementary School, Alondra Oliveras Hernandez, 10, also presented a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poem.
"We were trying to find a way to show the diversity and unity and we figure, what better way than through children who are innocent," explained Sgt. 1st Class Federico Molinar, MEO representative. "They don't see each other as color or gender -- they're just friends."
The guest speaker was Toyier Foster, senior pastor of The Radical Church in Sierra Vista. Foster's speech took the audience back in time from the 1800s to the present day, highlighting the nation's progression of race and gender equality.
"Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. He spoke that dream in front of a reflecting pool at the Washington Monument," Foster said. "I envision him looking down the mall at the hundreds of thousands of onlookers and, while he spoke, he gazed upon the reflecting pool and saw a reflection of the America that we could be. Today in the year 2014, we find that the dream has come into fruition."
Closing the observance, the guest speaker and students received awards for their volunteerism and participation. Lunch was served after the ceremony.