JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The "Gryphon" 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade hosted Joint Base Lewis-McChord's annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 11, at Carey Theater.

The observance's theme was "Your leadership is a sermon; be careful how you preach it," and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Khallid Shabazz, 7th Infantry Division's chaplain, was the event's keynote-speaker.

During his address, Shabazz spoke to the Army's leaders in attendance.

"Leaders, when I think about Martin Luther King's dream, I think about you and I and our rank and our position and our influence over people's lives ... what a responsibility you have," said Shabazz. "You have been given charge of a human being to nurture, to cultivate, to grow, to enhance their lives to the benefit of your unit and our nation."

Throughout his address Shabazz discussed how King was - and still is - one of the most influential leaders of our time, and he examined how King treated those he encountered. Shabazz also discussed how this was important to Soldiers today, and concluded his dedication to King by challenging all Army leadership to treat their Soldiers, regardless of race, sex, gender, or background, with dignity and respect, invoking King's "I have a dream speech" - one of King's most recognized speeches that was a defining moment of the civil rights movement.

"I have a dream today that our internal readiness would be congruent with our external readiness," Shabazz said. "I have a dream today that we will defend our Soldiers in times of trouble like we defend our nation in its times of distress. I have dream today that everybody that wears this uniform no matter what their condition will have a leader attached to them to show them some dignity and respect. I have a dream today that we will honor the least among us and that your leadership will become a sermon and that your sermon is preached with dignity and respect."

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially designated an American federal holiday on Nov. 2, 1983 to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., one of America's most prominent Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15.

In an essay penned by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, found on the King Center's website, she said about the day, "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 color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality."

The ceremony concluded with remarks by 201st EMIB Commander, Col. Todd Berry.