Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica Tabor
  • 28th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity Office
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Although King was assassinated in 1968 outside a hotel in Memphis, Tenn., his vision is still alive today.

King's birthday was established as a federal holiday when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1983, though it wasn't recognized until 1986. There were many opposed to the idea as America had only previously honored two individuals with national holidays - President George Washington and Christopher Columbus. MLK Day is observed on the third Monday in January, and falls on the 21st this year.

The theme remains the same every year - remember, celebrate and act. This holiday is popular for non-profit organizations and is "a day on, not a day off."

Coretta Scott King, King's wife, stated, "Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitating housing, tutoring those who can't read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream."

King believed in non-violent resistance during his time as a leader for the civil rights movement. He was also an activist for poverty and the Vietnam War. He led marches and gave many memorable speeches with powerful words that generated emotion and made a difference to those who heard them. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for combating racial inequality through nonviolence.

Community involvement is valued in the Air Force. It encompasses the whole-person concept, which is desired by supervisors and senior leadership. Finding local charities that are in need of volunteers may be easy, but taking the time to assist may require effort. When an individual helps another, it shows the dignity and respect they have for others. There may come a time where the person giving help may become the one who needs an extra hand.

As King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Take some time on Jan. 21, to find a way to help the Ellsworth or Rapid City community. Opening the door for someone can brighten someone's day. Assisting with projects such as Habitat for Humanity can make a difference to someone who has not had a roof over their head. It only takes one small gesture to impact someone's life. Motivate peers to make a difference in the community. Bridge barriers, set the example, and help keep King's vision stay alive today.