The beginning of a brand new year is a great opportunity to pause and reflect upon our daily lives and what we wish to accomplish in the year ahead. This includes appreciating our many blessings as a Nation, an Army and individuals.
Appreciation for these blessings can be seen in our annual celebration of the birth of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on January 16th. This national holiday was set aside beginning in 1983 to honor his legacy as a visionary and courageous leader of the greatest civil rights movement in our Nation’s history.
Shortly before signing this day into law, President Ronald Reagan said, “Martin Luther King, Jr. burned with the gospel of freedom, and that flame lit the way for millions. What he accomplished, not just for black Americans, but for all Americans [was to] lift a heavy burden from this country. As surely as black Americans were scarred by the yoke of slavery, America was scarred by injustice. Many Americans didn’t fully realize how heavy America’s burden was until it was lifted. Dr. King did that for us, [for] all of us.”
From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to his March on Washington, Dr. King selflessly and courageously crusaded for equality, dignity and respect for all. His simple, yet eloquent messages of peaceful equality transcend time. Few leaders have made such a profound impact on American society, and indeed on the world stage.
Thanks to Dr. King’s noble efforts America’s diversity remains one of our Nation’s most valuable assets – and one we strive to improve upon each and every day. Much like American society, our Army is strengthened through the dynamic effects of our diversity. As intended by making this time a national holiday, we should focus on Dr. King’s messages of equality, dignity and respect towards all. It is also a time to reflect on how we as individuals can improve our society and our Army through a spirit of respect and inclusion for all.
I wish you and your families a happy, healthy and productive 2012!
DAVID G. PERKINS
Lieutenant General, USA