JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii-U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Clifford T. Burton Jr., a Columbus, Georgia, native, received the Medgar W. Evers Outstanding Community Service Award on September 30, 2018, during an award ceremony conducted at the Pearl Harbor-Hickam Officers Club.
Burton was one of seven service members who received an Outstanding Military Leadership Award from the Honolulu-Hawaii branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for their leadership and selfless service.
"If this world is to move forward with any representation of what right looks like, we have got to train and develop future leaders, "said Alphonso Braggs, the president of the Honolulu-Hawaii branch of the NAACP. "These young men and women here today have certainly exemplified that, and that's why they're being recognized today," Braggs said.
Staff Sgt. Clifford T. Burton Jr., is assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, Okinawa, Japan. Burton coaches youth basketball, football and regularly volunteers at a local orphanage by donating clothing, food and toys.
For Burton, service to humanity has been something instilled within him prior to his service in the military.
"My mother and father always raised me to give back to the community and try to help other people out that are in need," said Burton.
Burton beliefs come from his humble upbringing.
"Growing up in Columbus, Georgia, it's a nice city, but the city does have poverty," Burton said.
Just as Burtons parents taught him the value of community service at an early age, Burton also teaches the importance of community service to his three children.
"I want them to see that it's not about just having everything, you have to be willing to dedicate your time to help other people," Burton said. "Helping other people is how you count your blessing and how you receive your blessing," Burton added.
The Medgar Evers, award comes from the life, legacy and service of WWII veteran Medgar Evers. He served in the U.S. Army and fought in the Battle of Normandy during World II. He was a civil rights activist in the state of Mississippi and also the secretary of the Mississippi NAACP. He continued to serve humanity until he was assassinated in 1963.
Although he is no longer here, his legacy lives on through those who continue to serve others such as Burton.
The Honolulu-Hawaii NAACP recognizes service members who are nominated by their chain of command based on leadership, selfless service and mentorship while serving in Guam, Hawaii, Japan and Korea.
The NAACP, a civil rights organization was founded in 1909 to ensure equality in various fields for all people and to eradicate racial discrimination.
Also, awarded was Master Sgt. Wallace Layne, who was unable to attend the award ceremony. Layne was awarded the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Meritorious Community Service Award. He is assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan.
"Considering I have spent the last two decades serving the country and taking care of soldiers and families, it is a nice affirmation and culmination of my efforts and military career," Layne remarked in regards to earning the Ida B. wells-Barnett Meritorious Community Service Award.