By Mr Jeff Crawley (IMCOM)January 30, 2012
FORT SILL. Okla-- Fort Sill remembered the contributions of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a luncheon Jan. 19 at the Patriot Club.
The program featured a broadcast of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and musical entertainment by Lawton's Universal Praise Community Choir, who performed "I Believe" and "Expect the Great."
The annual observance was co-sponsored by the 75th Fires Fires Brigade and Installation Equal Employment Opportunity Office and hosted by the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general.
In his invocation, Chaplain (Capt.) Kenneth Reid, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, said: Father, gaze upon our hearts, and as Doctor King indicated that truly if we were to be a people, look beyond the color of our skin, and gaze upon the character displayed by that individual and respond accordingly.
Speaker Dr. Charles Whitlow, Union Baptist Church of Lawton pastor, had worked with King in the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education. He described King as a Baptist preacher who was thrust into the role of a civil rights activist.
Whitlow told how King was invited to give a sermon in 1953 at the Calvary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, with the possibility of becoming its pastor. King came and he preached.
"Calvary Baptist Church rejected him," said Whitlow, who in 1968 became the first black teacher at Chickasha (Okla.) High School. "I thank God that Calvary Baptist Church did because if they had elected him to be their pastor, I doubt very seriously we would be here celebrating his legacy and life today."
Subsequently, King became the pastor for Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
Whitlow, a Navy veteran, described King as a man sent from God with a word of judgment about a nation with incalculable opportunities.
"This great man of God cried out like John-the-Baptist," said Whitlow. "He was a voice crying in the wilderness for justice and equality for all people, not just for black people."
In closing, Whitlow challenged everyone to work together to build America where there will be freedom for everyone.
"It is the responsibility of all of us to work together to see that this nation becomes one nation under God," he said.
This year's theme is "Remember! Celebrate! Act!" In keeping with the theme, the 75th Fires Brigade provided everyone a list of volunteer opportunities here through Army Community Service.
"I hope this event will rekindle the spirit of volunteering, that is so important to this community," said Col. Alfredo Najera, 75th Fires Brigade commander. "I ask you all ... to make volunteering a habit."
Maj. Gen. David Halverson, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general, thanked Whitlow for his inspiring words and presented him with a gift.
Halverson quoted Dr. King: "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualist concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
How can we do that?, Halverson said.
"We in the military are chariots of fire," he said. "We bring freedom, and we must create the atmosphere so we can do that for everyone."
Maj. Jay Coats, Capability Developement Integration Directorate manager, was one of the hundreds of Soldiers who attended the event.
"It was excellent," Coats said of the program. "It was organized, the meal was great and the speaker did a great job delivering his message."