MLK Observance Guest Speaker

Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, 66th Inspector General of the U.S. Army., will be the guest speaker at Fort Lee's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance, Jan. 21, 11:30 a.m., Lee Theater.

FORT LEE, Va. – All community members are invited to attend or watch the livestream of Fort Lee’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance on Jan. 21, 11:30 a.m., in the Lee Theater. Remote viewing will be available at www.facebook.com/59thOrdnanceBrigade.

The theme will be “The Army Bringing MLK’s Dream to Life!” The 59th Ord. Bde. is the event host with support from CASCOM.

“Our Army’s ‘People First’ strategy that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion are, without doubt, in line with the historic vision of Dr. King,” observed Capt. Sylvia Scott, commander of Bravo Company, 16th Ord. Battalion, and the event’s lead coordinator. “We are excited to highlight that message through the words of our guest speaker and an inspirational ‘Dream Jazz Dance’ performance with six racially diverse Soldiers showing what MLK’s vision means to them.”

The guest speaker is Lt. Gen. Leslie Smith, 66th Inspector General of the U.S. Army. Over his three decades of military service, he has held a wide range of leadership positions, beginning with his earliest days as a Field Artillery Officer and later with the Chemical Officer Corps.

In 2001, Smith assumed command of the 83rd Chemical Battalion, where elements deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. He next served on the Army staff as the deputy G-8 division chief and chief, NBC Branch for the Full Dimensional Protection Division. In 2005, he assumed command of the 3rd Chemical Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and later served as the G-3, 20th Support Command. From 2008-2010, he was the 25th chief of chemical and commandant of the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School.

In 2010, Smith returned to the 20th Support Command as the commanding general. In June 2013, he became the first chemical officer to serve as the commanding general of the United States Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood. He assumed his current position in February 2018, previously serving as the deputy IG.

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Georgia Southern University, a MS degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a MA in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

The national movement for an annual observance recognizing Dr. King’s many achievements began in 1968, the same year he was assassinated in Memphis. Former President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, however, it wasn’t celebrated nationally until three years later.

Special ceremonies and other activities will be held at military installations around the world to recognize the legacy of Dr. King’s teachings that focused on the timeless values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, respect, humility and service. The Army remains mindful of the endeavor to promote diversity, foster inclusive behavior and demonstrate respect for others.

Those planning to attend the upcoming observance in person are reminded that social distancing and mask-wearing protocols will be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For further information about the Lee event, contact Scott at 804-765-9304.