30 January 2015
Tyler Shuler of Frederick, Maryland, writes a letter to a Wounded Warrior during a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration Jan. 18. Photo by Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs
Remembering the Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: A Day On, Not a Day Off
By Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Dr. King promoted community, respect and supporting each other for the well-being of mankind. Each year, on the third Monday in January, Americans across the country answer that question by serving their neighborhoods and volunteering their time to make a difference and spark change.

In Frederick, this year was no different. At an event sponsored by a local farm and the Frederick Transit at the Bernard Brown Community Center, over 40 children from the surrounding area volunteered their time to benefit the community of Frederick and give back. The morning began with planting seed trays and building bird houses for community beautification projects and was followed by art pieces for senior citizens and letters to wounded Soldiers. The day ended with a Martin Luther King, Jr. poem and essay contest.

Three members of the Fort Detrick Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program visited during the letters to wounded Soldiers segment and spoke to those in attendance about how important these letters are and how they make a Soldier feel.

“When you are away from your family for a long time you miss them. They miss you. To receive a letter lifts up our spirits and reminds us why we do this. To receive a letter thanking us for our service or telling us what is going on at home reaffirms that you care,” said Spc. William Collins.

“Having Soldiers here is a highlight for me,” said Michael Dickson. “Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted selfless acts. He promoted unity and community. Everyday members of the military put their lives on the line for the big picture, so we can do things like this today. That’s selfless and we should be doing more things to support our military.”

During a question and answer session, Pfc. Haroldo Palma was asked about an event where he was scared and receiving a letter like this would have helped.

“I didn’t know I was afraid of heights until I was in a drill and was 10 feet up. That doesn’t sound like its high, but when you’re up there it is. To receive a letter thanking me for my service and reminding me of why I joined and the importance of this career would have eased by fears. I completed the activity by pulling within myself, but to know that what I do is respected and thought of by others would have made it easier,” said Palma.

In the end, these few hours opened the eyes of many children. They now realize that what may appear to have little to no meaning has the potential to snowball and affect the lives of many in positive ways that may never be understood.

As said in one letter; “Dr. King would be proud of us here in Frederick today. We made projects to make the elderly smile, encourage our military to hold their heads high and sow seeds that will grow into food to help those who need the help.”

On Jan. 19 it was a day on, not a day off.
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