Story by Crista Mary Mack on 01/22/2019FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii - Martin Luther King Day was officially observed by the 9th Mission Support Command Equal Opportunity office's official commemoration here Jan. 22.
The life and legacy of Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was discussed by featured guest speaker Alfonso Braggs, Honolulu Branch - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an official birthday proclamation, a cake cutting, award presentation and showing of the original "I have a Dream" speech by King from Aug. 28, 1963.
"Dr. King was a man who was willing to stand for equality, not just for black Americans, but for all people. Even though he was only on this earth a short 39 years, his impact is long lasting and his legacy lives on today, " said Lt. Col. Scott Whited, 9th MSC Equal Opportunity Officer. "Today we want to take the time to honor the life of a great man whose philosophy of nonviolence make an impact that changed America forever."
Braggs, a retired U.S. Army Soldier himself, addressed the audience specifically asking them to reflect on Dr. King's concept of content of character as part of the annual celebration of the life and legacy of the famous American. Three topics within the concept of character, attributes, courage, and reputation.
"In Dr. King's speech, he was referring to a society of future generations, accepting each other without regard to our race, gender, color, creed, and so forth," said Braggs. "His children and our children should be living in a world where the contents of their character are the defining factors for their acceptance and inclusion. Perhaps he was admonishing us to judge each other based on our attributes, our courage, and our reputation."
"He challenged us to work in harmony for a better tomorrow...he intellectually challenged our competencies to excel, to aspire to engage," Braggs stated. "By his personal example, he taught us that we must come together as a people to achieve change with all of humanity, and not just a chosen few."
Success relies on uniting responsible, caring and productive citizens, Braggs said.
"Dr. King's reputation was built on understanding mankind's unique capacity to achieve self determination and the ability to coexist in harmony," he said. "You here are equipped with that same opportunity to share with the world the contents of your character."
He addressed the crowd, consisting primarily of Soldiers, and related the legacy of Dr. King to the charge of those before him.
"As men and women who stand in harms' way and defend freedom and democracy, you too are responsible for examining the contents of your character," he said. "You are responsible, as the conservators of the Declaration (of Independence), the Constitution of the United States, and just as Dr. King was able to galvanize generations by his simple yet profound message of peace and love, we mu all ensure that the contents of our character are hard at work every day."
Following the address by Braggs, an official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Birthday Proclamation was then read by Sgt. 1st Class Demeric Marshall, 196th Infantry Brigade Equal Opportunity Advisor. The proclamation, Public Law 98-144, oficially designates the third Monday of January, in honor of Dr. King's birthday, as a federal holiday. This year's theme is "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on, not a day off!"
After the reading of the proclamation, 9th MSC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Doug Anderson and 9th MSC Equal Opportunity Advisor Master Sgt. Clifton Dockery cut a cake commemorating the event. The audience was then treated to a video presentation of the original "I have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 28, 1963. At the close of the ceremony, Anderson presented an award to Braggs in appreciation.
"His life's work engaged and empowered future generations," said Bragg.
"Dr. King taught us we are to lead from the front, we are to stand up for what is right."