Invoking the vision and courage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., two performances set the celebratory tone at the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Tuesday.
After the invocation by Chaplain (Col.) James Walker, installation chaplain, Staff Sgt. Yolanda Jones took the stage at the Petroleum and Water Department auditorium to sing “Precious Lord.”
“For me, the song signifies a prayer to the Lord to carry you on during trials and tribulations,” said Jones. “It’s not the first time I’ve sung this song, because in life we all have our shares of trials and tribulations.”
Sgt. 1st Class Carolyn Ford delivered King’s inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech with all the emotion and thought-provoking gusto of its original orator.
“It was only four short years ago when I first performed the speech,” said Ford. “I had heard a young man do a rendition of the speech at a program, and he was reading it off a paper. I thought to myself that a speech that important should be committed to memory. From that point on, I decided to read it over and over. I practiced it with my son, read it in front of the mirror. The speech is as relevant today as when Dr. King first spoke the words.”
Ford said she practices the words with her son so he could learn to live the words, not just memorize them.
“If he can do the things that are said in the speech, then I feel he will have a better way in life,” said Ford. “Everybody is learning now that diversity is the way to go, and that’s the message this speech delivers.”
Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, Quartermaster Center and School commanding general, reminded the audience the theme of this year’s celebration, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off!”
“This is a day that symbolizes our nation’s commitment to peace, justice and universal brother-and-sisterhood and the noblest ideal of all – that this is a democratic society based on the principles of freedom, justice and equality for all people,” said Cross. “Martin Luther King was a man of great vision whose dream of our nation set in motion such powerful, sweeping changes that are still impacting our society today.”
The observance, hosted by the Installation Equal Employment Opportunity office, was held in conjunction with the 16th annual EEO Awards Ceremony. Anna Swann Thweatt, equal employment officer, said both events celebrate the theme of equality which made the joint celebration all the more relevant.
“Martin Luther King always talked about equal opportunities for everyone, and for everyone to come together as a nation without any dividing lines based on race, color or religion,” said Thweatt. “So I felt if we had both ceremonies together, that would be a very fitting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”