By Lori Newman, Brooke Army Medical Center Public AffairsJanuary 25, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center held an observance Jan. 17 to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This year marks 50 years since the historic March on Washington and the anniversary of the civil rights icon's death. On April 4, 1968, King was mortally wounded on the balcony of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and later pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Guest speaker Army Col. Valerie Holmes, deputy director, Clinical Performance Assurance Directorate U.S. Army Medical Command, talked about King's willingness to stand up for the rights of all people.
"He (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) was for all people that ended up being the reason his life was taken," she said. "It wasn't just because of racism. Someone figured out that he was for all people."
Holmes talked about King's willingness to stand up against poverty and oppression. She also touched on the civil rights leader's education and upbringing.
"Just as we today courageously serve our country to protect our ideals and beliefs, let us remember how Dr. King consistently placed himself in harm's way leading demonstrations in support of civil rights for all Americans, no matter the color of their skin," Holmes said.
Holmes asked the audience to look around. "Everyone is represented here today," she said. "We are in the fight. We are doing what Martin Luther King's dream was all about. We are living his dream.
"Living the dream is not for us right now, it's for those who are going to come after us," Holmes said. "Those who come after us will be living the dream that we are having now."
Holmes urged everyone to take the lead and act.
"Dr. King's message always stressed action, not passivity," she said. "Even now we must act to ensure we move forward as a community -- as a country -- as Americans."
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, BAMC commanding general, reflected on King's pursuit of freedom, justice and equality for all people regardless of the creed or color.
"We owe Dr. Martin Luther King and so many others who spearheaded the civil rights movement a tremendous debt of gratitude," Johnson said. "Without their unwavering commitment and sacrifice, our nation and our world would be a much different place."
Johnson spoke about the iconic March on Washington, which advocated for civil and economic rights for African Americans.
"It was a defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," he said.
At the march, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech in which he called for an end to racism. The march is credited with helping to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and preceded the Selma Voting Rights Movement, which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"Dr. King tirelessly worked against the evils of racial injustice, war, and poverty," Johnson said. "He strived for better jobs and higher wages, equality and fairness for all. He fought for decent housing and quality education. He fought against racial injustice -- but most of all, he fought for peace.
"Dr. King saw himself simply as a servant of humanity," he said. "Those who have chronicled his journey note he wanted his life remembered as a life dedicated to the service to others."
The BAMC commander challenged everyone to come together and help build a community of peace and goodwill for all humankind.
BAMC Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough agreed.
"By committing ourselves to noble struggles, we become better as individuals and as citizens of our nation and the world," Hough said. "I believe that everyone has the power to influence change in some way, leaving this world in a better place tomorrow, than it is today."