By Spc. Gregory T. Summers, 1st Signal Brigade Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 26, 2014
USAG YONGSAN, South Korea -- The 1st Signal Brigade hosted the 2014 USAG Yongsan/Area II Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday main observance at the Dragon Hill Lodge's Naija Ballroom on Jan. 16.
Since being declared a Federal holiday by 40th President Ronald Reagan in 1986, every third Monday of January is a day to celebrate and recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dedication to civil rights and equality.
Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry, 1st Signal Brigade Command Sergeant Major, was the event's guest speaker.
Curry, who said he never expected to be selected as a guest speaker to recognize and pay tribute to Dr. King, gratefully accepted when asked to participate in this year's observance.
"This holiday is meant to be a day to reflect upon the principles of racial equality and non-violent social change as promoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," said Curry. "I stand before you today totally humbled, and with great humility I deliver this address as we honor the life and contributions of Dr. King on his birthday."
Curry spoke about the life of Dr. King and praised the accomplishments of his work toward creating an equal America. He also took the opportunity to praise the United States armed forces as being a true demonstration to Dr. King's dream of equal opportunity.
"Today, I would argue the armed forces of the United States have it right," said Curry. "We are by no means perfect, but we are on a glide-path that is conducive to good order and discipline in equal rights for all who serve."
"Like Dr. King, the armed forces judge by the content of a service member's character, not by the color of their skin," said Curry.
Then Curry surprised the crowd when he called four Soldiers from the 1st Signal Brigade to post to his left and right in the ballroom. Curry said there wasn't an awards ceremony or anything unusual going on, but he wanted to share their significant accomplishments as service members.
Curry told the four stories of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roy L. Rucker, Sgt. 1st Class Norka Snavely, Master Sgt. Erica D. Williams and Lt. Col. Lan T. Dalat.
Coming from different places, with different ethnic backgrounds, each of the Soldiers had dealt with some sort of equality challenge during their lives, but the Army has been a constant providing equality for all in their military careers.
"Because of the military, they were treated fairly, given the same opportunities as all who serve and are judged by their content of their character. They represent equal rights and the fair and equal treatment that all members of the Armed Forces are granted," said Curry.
Curry also said, "The military is the only organization in the world where you are groomed from day one to be a leader regardless of who you are, how you look or where you come from."
The inspiring stories of the Soldiers touched the audience in attendance and brought light to the bonds built amongst all service members in the military.
Curry ended his speech by saying, "In my opinion, if Dr. King was with us today, he would be very proud of the accomplishments the United States armed forces have made in their fair and equal treatment of all service members."