EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Team Edwards congregated at Chapel 1 to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jan. 17.
The Edwards AFB Chapel Community and the African-American Heritage Association hosted the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ceremony. MLK Day is observed every year on the third Monday in January in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
The base celebration’s guest speaker was Dr. Maury Jackson, chair of the Pastoral Studies Department and associate professor of Practical Theology for the HMS Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.
“He took the lead, he got hit with rocks, he got stabbed by a woman in New York, and he eventually took a bullet,” Jackson said. “King embraced the priestly virtues of compassion that he knew was deep in his religious tradition, and he knew it was deep in religious traditions of others and it was deep in the human experience of the non-religious. And he modeled it and he walked with it.”
In his address, Jackson stated that even though King was not perfect, he stood up, fought and led through a turbulent time.
“He wasn’t the perfect good, he had habits of cigarette smoking, that wasn’t good for his health, he had personal problems with infidelity,” Jackson said. “But when you watch a man who struggles with all of this…and the nation needed that transformative leadership and he provided it. It wore on him personally, it wore on him physically, and it wore on him and his family.”
Jackson also spoke about how King was able to be compassionate during the midst of the Civil Rights Era.
“’I’m not worried about my own life’ he said…and remember, he was deeply compassionate. In the fight against racism, he often said, ‘We have to save our sick white brothers,’” Jackson said.
During the ceremony, Chaplain (Maj.) Jonathan Runnels, the 412th Test Wing deputy wing chaplain, performed an excerpt from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Runnels read aloud the “Let Freedom Ring” portion of the speech with Dr. Linda Bowling and the MLK Choir providing music and background vocals.
To cap the celebration, Col. Kirk Reagan, the 412th Test Wing vice commander, provided his words on Dr. King.
“He had a cause, and he fought for that cause, he studied the works of (Mohandas) Ghandi and believed profusely in non-violent measures,” Reagan said. “One of my favorite quotes from him is, ‘an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.’ There’s a lot we can take away from him, particularly for our military culture and that is resiliency. He was attacked, thrown stones at, stabbed, more importantly his family was threatened, his house was bombed; but he persevered and through his own personally resiliency carried on his fight.”