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    USS George Washington (CVN 73) Hosts Martin Luther King Jr. Heritage Event



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Ferrero 


    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Heritage Committee held an observance ceremony on the mess decks of the floating accommodation facility (FAF).

    Lt. Cmdr. Robert Guilliams, a chaplain assigned to George Washington’s command religious ministries department (CRMD) echoed King’s own words when delivering the invocation prayer.

    “In these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are dynamic in extent and chaotic in detail, give us penetrating vision, broad understanding, and the power of endurance and abiding faith, and save us from the paralysis of crippling fear,” said Guilliams. “Oh God, we ask you to help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world and for the brotherhood that transcends race or color.”

    Chief Interior Communications Electrician General Livingston, the head of the heritage committee, highlighted the reason the ship gathered to honor the life and legacy of King.

    “The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left such a mark on this world that Congress designated the third Monday in January as a national day of service for the last 25 years,” said Livingston. “This day of service is a way to channel Dr. King’s life and teachings into the community. The theme every year is the same; Remember, Celebrate, Act. Remember where we were as a society, celebrate where we are, and continuously answer the call to act by serving and volunteering in our communities. An overarching theme is ‘A Day On, Not a Day Off,’ encouraging everyone to serve their communities. Each and every one of you answer the call to act daily by putting on the uniform and coming to work. For that, I thank you. Be proud to know that your service is a contributing factor in us realizing the dream.”

    Featured during the ceremony were King’s speech “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?,” delivered at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on Oct. 26, 1967, as well as King’s sermon, titled “The Drum Major Instinct,” preached from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968.

    Capt. Kenneth Strong, George Washington’s commanding officer, gave praise to Sailors who volunteer their time, not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but on the other 364 days of the year as well.

    “Those who serve the community from our command, thank you for living Dr. King’s legacy,” said Strong. “You represent the Navy, George Washington, and yourselves so well. Thank you for taking his words to heart.”

    Strong also touched on King’s renowned speaking ability and its impact on the nation.

    “His reaction to injustice, segregation, and disenfranchisement of people who were unable to vote changed our nation for the better,” said Strong. “Martin Luther King Jr. is in my pantheon of greatest Americans. Few match his mastery of the English language and oration. I recommend reviewing his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, as well as his final speech in Memphis before he was slain. There are no greater words spoken by any American to move us to change and make our nation greater.”

    Lt. Chandler Irwin, the divisional officer of CRMD and the event’s guest speaker, shared her perspective as well.

    “A few weeks ago, the heritage committee stopped by our office to inquire if one of the chaplains would be interested in speaking to the theme of ‘Act’ as we honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. this morning,” said Irwin. “If I’m being honest, my first thought was ‘no.’ On the day that we celebrate a man who fought against injustice, particularly racial injustice, my immediate instinct was that black or African-American voices should be heard. Then I took some time to reflect, and I realized how very sad that was. More than 50 years have passed since King stood in Memphis, Tennessee on the eve of his death, and he said to the crowd, ‘I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know, tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!’ As we step into a new year and new decade, I can’t say that I believe that we’ve reached that promised land. I think there’s still work to be done.”

    Irwin ended her speech by encouraging those in attendance to take advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by applying the subjects and lessons discussed during the ceremony.

    “Take some time for hands-on help and care for others. Maybe you volunteer where you already serve. Maybe you look in our bulletin today and see that the Peninsula Rescue Mission needs volunteers, people to feed the hungry in this community, or maybe your day takes on a different approach – spending time reading Dr. King’s speeches or sermons; go to a local museum. The hope is that these things cause us to learn and reflect, that these things stir within us a desire to act [and] a desire to care for the poor and those in need.”

    To read and listen to the full speech delivered in Memphis, Tennessee by Dr. King referenced by Capt. Strong and Lt. Irwin, Sailors are encouraged to visit



    Date Taken: 01.15.2020
    Date Posted: 01.30.2020 11:31
    Story ID: 360267
    Location: NEWPORT NEWS, VA, US 

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