By Rachel Ponder, U.S. Army Garrison Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 24, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Aberdeen Proving Ground community honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during a ceremony at the Edgewood Area Recreation Center Jan. 12.
Keeping with the theme of MLK Day, "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!" attendees were asked to remember the civil rights activist by making a difference in their own community.
The annual celebration kicked off with Angel Strong-Archer, a Morgan State University student who sang America's national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, followed by a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, known as the Black national anthem in the African American community.
Elise Galloway, an Aberdeen High School student, read "A Dream is Forever," a poem written by her grandmother who was an acquaintance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event, sponsored by Army Public Health, featured special music, a poetry reading, displays and remarks by guest speaker Judge Angela Eaves, who serves on the Circuit Court for Harford County, Md.
Eaves is the first African-American and second woman appointed to a judgeship in Harford County, and the first to serve in either capacity on the circuit court. She is also actively involved in her community, volunteering on several civic, nonprofit and community organizations throughout Harford County.
Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, APG commander, introduced and welcomed Eaves.
"Not only has she learned the law, and upheld the law, she is a lady who has volunteered her time to help those less fortunate and to guide the youth of this nation to learn to achieve greatness," Justice said.
Justice said that MLK Day is a time to celebrate a man that dedicated his life striving to improve our nation.
"Though our nation has never been perfect, the promise of our constitution, that foundation, is that we would strive for a better more perfect union," he said.
During her speech, Eaves said she is inspired by civil rights leaders of the past and feels honored to carry on their legacy by giving back to the community.
"It is important to commemorate how grateful we are for all we have and pay homage to those who through blood sweat and tears paved the way for all of us," she said. "Like many of you, I stand here as an example of the selfless work of many not only Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but also Correta Scott King, Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height just to name a few. These were Soldiers in a fight for civil and human rights. As the first African American judge in Harford County, I am truly blessed to represent their legacy in such a meaningful capacity."
Eaves emphasized that everyone, no matter their position, race or gender, has the ability to give back to their community.
"We cannot allow Dr. King's words to be in vain," she said. "Though equality is difficult we are winning it. Let's all rededicate ourselves not just to commemorate and celebrate the dream but on acting on it every day. It is a day on, not a day off. "
After the program, Eaves said she feels it is important for the country to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day "because it gives us a renewed sense of optimism."
Burena Smith, a Research, Development, Engineering Command employee, said she attended the program to hear the guest speaker. Smith said she experienced racism as an African American child growing up in South Carolina during the days of segregation. She said she's ever grateful for Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists who campaigned for equal rights.
"I have a consistent awareness of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. because I lived through that era, it directly impacted my life," Smith said, "and I found this program very enjoyable and inspiring."
For pictures of the event, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/usagapg/. To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. Day, visit www.mlk.gov.