The Fort Belvoir Equal Opportunity Office hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr., Birthday Observance, Jan. 15 at the Community Center, to recognize and promote societal diversity, tolerance and cooperation.

Remember! Celebrate! Act!

The event, themed "Remember! Celebrate! Act!," drew nearly 100 guests, which included representatives from mission partners from across the installation, and Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander; and keynote speaker, Everett B. Ward, Ph.D., 35th general president, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Ward opened the celebration by introducing a short film highlighting King's commitment to establishing equality among the races, and his struggles as he traveled through the South at the height of racial tensions in the U.S.

Protecting democracy

"It is an honor to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with men and women of the armed services who, like Dr. King, truly understand and embrace what it means to give the ultimate sacrifice for the advancement and protection of American democracy," Ward said. "I firmly believe that it's critical that we remind ourselves that the man we celebrate today--like other African Americans--experienced institutionalized racism, but made the conscious decision to place service before self."

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

"Dr. King said, 'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political, nor popular. But, he must take it because his conscience tells him it's right,'" Ward continued. "Described as an extremist and an outside agitator, Dr. King made the conscious and courageous decision to fight injustice. Dr. King responded to his critics by saying that he was in Birmingham, Alabama, because injustice was there. 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' Dr. King said. The question today is, Are you willing to be an agitator for justice? To celebrate Dr. King, we must be willing to emulate to real legacy of Dr. King … 365 day of the year."

Greenberg closed the ceremony with brief remarks, thanked Ward for his insightful address and presented him with an appreciation award.

"Dr. King would be so proud because you're so inspirational in delivering his message," Greenberg said. " … It's so inspirational to hear these stories about Dr. King and about history … and, it's important."