by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher S. Haley
SASEBO, Japan (Jan. 19, 2015) Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo’s Multi Cultural Committee and Sasebo Elementary held a celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 19.
The celebration was attended by Sailors, civilians, members of the CFAS Fire Department, and students from Sasebo Elementary School.
“Today is a reflection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision back when he gave his famous speech ‘I Have A Dream’ and they did The Peace March,” Said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Brandon Alexander, president of the SMCC. “We wanted to utilize the students at Sasebo Elementary, because they’re our future and we want to see how his dream impacted them for the future.”
The celebration included the students memorizing and reciting Dr. King’s speech, “I Have a Dream.” The students then reflected on the effect that the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation has had on their current lives, such as their diversity of friends and fellow students, and the opportunities that have been afforded to them. Following the speech students ate lunch prepared by the SMCC before a cake cutting ceremony.
“The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a “’Beloved Community,’” said CFAS Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Ovios. “I think that today, our celebration is a demonstration of our Beloved Community here in Sasebo. One that is diverse, with opportunities for all to participate and to achieve their full potential.”
At the start of the celebration service members took part in a “peace march” across the base to honor the historical March on Washington in 1963 where Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream” speech to an estimated crowd of 250,000 people.
“Even as we gather to honor Dr. King, events in the United States over the last year remind us that we still have much work to do to improve equality, whether it be racial, gender, or economic,” Said Ovios. “So, as we listen to the words of Dr. King this morning, as performed by the children of Sasebo Elementary, as ask each of us to reflect on how we continue to contribute to Dr. King’s goal of a “’Beloved Community.’”
Dr. King, who would have been 87 years old on Jan. 15, was a leader in nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 2, 1983 and was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986.
“Martin Luther King stands for so much as far as dealing with racism and segregation, and in the Navy and military as a whole, we don’t see color. We don’t discriminate, we are actually against it, just like Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Alexander.
The SMCC provides monthly events, ceremonies and celebrations in order to help promote cultural diversity and awareness in the CFAS community.