02 February 2018
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Reminds Us to Serve with a Heart Full of Grace
Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs
The U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance Jan. 24 at the Fort Detrick Auditorium to pay tribute to the life and legacy of the American civil rights activist and pastor.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for the advancement of civil rights, is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and is one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

The national theme for the day is ‘Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off!’ encourages us to follow King’s lead in service to others.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love,” said King.

August 28, 1963, is a day that will forever be etched into the history books as a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement. There in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Those vibrant words continue to resonate today, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a Nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”

King’s fight for civil rights didn’t stop with his death in 1968. His enduring legacy and powerful words live on today, still inspiring men and women of all races to seek equality, tolerance and justice for all people.

Dr. Denise Rollins, a local author, grief counselor, and marriage and family therapist, provided this year’s keynote address. Her presentation, titled “C.P.R. for Our Wounded Community: How Dr. King’s Legacy Can Bring Comfort, Peace and Restoration When We Join Together As One,” was a touching tribute to King, all while giving applicable lessons we can put into practice today.

Rollins encouraged the audience to practice whole-hearted communication, seeking to understand each other’s differences.

“In today’s instant information society, we tend not to communicate with one another,” said Rollins. “Would you agree with what Dr. King said?”

Rollins continued, speaking King’s words, “We barely get along because we fear each other, we fear each other because we don’t know each other, and we don’t know each other because we don’t communicate with each other.”

“It seems so small, yet it is so big,” continued Rollins. “What if I got to know my neighbor who looks differently than me, who believes differently than me, who worships differently than me? What if, instead of judging, I sought to understand? What a difference that would make!”

Rollins went on to offer several suggestions on how to build relationships and communicate with those we may not understand. She later beseeched the audience once again to listen with their whole heart, to communicate with their whole heart and to take each opportunity given “to plan, to build, to bind, to love and, yes, to seek justice together. Instead of holding on to anxious energy, anxiety and sometimes hate against each other, take the opportunity to learn from and with the person who is different from you. Isn’t that a lot less heavy?”

Rollins closed her presentation with these final words: “Let this day, as we look back to the lofty goals King had for us, to see the many ways that we can apply King’s message to our life and the ways that we relate to one another. Be great, individually and collectively; and if we do that, that’s how we fulfill, magnify and extend King’s dream.”
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