“The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality,” wrote Coretta Scott King.
In January of 1983, then President Ronald Reagan, signed the national Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday into law.
For 25 years, Americans have spent the third Monday of January celebrating the life and legacy of King.
The 525th Military Intelligence Brigade hosted the XVIII Airborne Corps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Ceremony at the Iron Mike Conference Center, Jan. 11.
Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson has almost 28 years in service, and is currently the Chief of Staff for the XVIII Airborne Corps.
Brunson explained to attendees, it was not the color of his skin, or who he knows that afforded him the honor of speaking at the observance, but that he was selected by his loss during a game of Dodge Ball with other members of the Fort Bragg command team.
“Our Military and our Army have led the way and shore up the conscience of our nation,” said Brunson.
Quoting Langston Hughes’ poem ‘Harlem,’ Brunson asked the crowd, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
Is there a difference between a dream deferred and a dream unrealized, he asked.
“In one case you are waiting for change to come, in the other by your very inaction you may find your self astride a road on the wrong side of history,” explained Brunson.
Brunson recommended three steps to remain active and to help see the Dream King spoke of realized.
“We must first live our values, we must be ever vigilant and if called, like Dr. King, must act for freedom, for equality, for opportunity, for a dream that will not be deferred and will not be unrealized in our time,” explained Brunson.
Sgt. Ayana Ritchey, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, XVIII Abn. Corps felt inspired by Brunson’s words.
“I think it was very uplifting and encouraging., He just basically spoke about togetherness being one being a team,” said Ritchey.
Col. Daniel Benick and Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Baptiste presented Brunson with a gift and then 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus closed the event by singing, “Lift every voice and sing.”
“Lift every voice and sing” was written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother 1905. It is often referred to as the unofficial Black-American National Anthem.
A reception was held after the event featuring menu items from significant places in King’s life, including fried okra, pulled chicken with Memphis style BBQ sauce, macaroni and cheese, banana pudding and more.