Soldiers, civilians and family members from across Fort Detrick came together Jan. 14 at the Community Activity Center to take part in a celebration luncheon honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. titled "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off."
The luncheon was sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, and the guest speaker was the Rev. Dr. Goodwin Douglas, a civil rights activist who marched in the 1963 March on Washington. Music was provided by Brian E. Wilson, who played a saxophone solo, and Kenneth Lindsey, conducted a reading of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech that had the crowd transfixed.
"When I looked at the theme of this program, I was really caught up in the spirit of it," Douglas said. "We all know the reasons we have the holidays, and we just want to relax, but today we pause to celebrate one of the great civil rights leaders in history, and I think it is so right that we look at it as a day on, not a day off," he said.
As he talked to the capacity crowd, Douglas described his experiences during the 1960s as the civil rights movement grew and people took to the streets.
"It was an era of excitement, change and hope - and I have to tell you it was hard to be nonviolent as you would see cigarette butts put out in the hair of [black] ladies because they were simply walking down the street," he said.
"That is why you must remember today the people who gave their blood, sweat and tears to put you where you are today...remember those who marched, walked and picketed," he said.
Following Douglas' speech, Wilson, a native of Baltimore who moved to Frederick when he was 16, played a saxophone solo that brought the crowd out of their seats. He said he was a humble man who was so honored to play for those in uniform, and said he had some words of advice for all assembled. "Being kind is the cheapest thing you can do, just be kind to one another."
The event concluded with a reading of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech by Lindsey, a former employee here who served in uniform and as a civilian for over 43 years.
"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last," he read to a thundering ovation.