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    Speaker challenges all to remember principles of compassion, collaboration, courage during Fort McCoy’s 2023 MLK Jr. Day observance

    Speaker challenges all to remember principles of compassion, collaboration, courage during Fort McCoy’s 2023 MLK Jr. Day observance

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Guest speaker Marcus Gentry gives his presentation about Martin Luther King Jr. on...... read more read more

    Fort McCoy held its 2023 observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 19 at McCoy’s Community Center, and guest speaker Marcus Gentry took the opportunity during that observance to challenge all in attendance to remember the principles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived by.

    Gentry’s presentation looked at many things representing the memory, history, and meaning of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Gentry, of Chicago, is the founder of The Respect Academy, which according to his website,, is “is a web-based service organization that uses the Socratic method of teaching, coaching, and creative empowerment strategies for the application of universal principles.”

    Americans celebrated the first official Martin Luther King Day, which is the only federal holiday commemorating an African American, on Jan. 20, 1986. In 1994, Congress designated the holiday as a National Day of Service and made the third Monday in January every year the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service — a “Day On, Not a Day Off.”

    King advocated for nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice as a means of lifting racial oppression. He created change with organized sit-ins, marches, and peaceful demonstrations that highlighted issues of inequality. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964; he was the youngest person to ever receive this high honor. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father by entering the ministry to become a Baptist minister. On April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., as he stood on the balcony of his hotel. King had traveled to Memphis to lead a march in support of striking sanitation workers.

    According to The King Center’s website, “During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.”

    Gentry discussed the principles King lived by during his presentation.

    “The first principle that he lived by is the principle of compassion — compassion for someone in something beyond himself,” Gentry said. “One of his quotes that he used to speak about this principle was true compassion. True compassion is more than just flinging a coin at a beggar. It demands on our humanity that if we live in a society that produces beggars, we are morally commanded to restructure society. That’s what he said about compassion. That’s one principle.

    “The other principle … that he lived by was collaboration … working together … which meant he had to have strong relationships with other people,” Gentry said. “Collaboration is not just him getting along or trying to connect with someone but having an interrelationship and an interconnection with someone else. One of the things that he was known to write about having to do with that principle was that none of us are safe until all of us are safe. Whatever happens to one of us directly affects us all indirectly.

    “The third principle is the principle of courage,” Gentry said. “(It’s) that willingness to not be fearless but in spite of your fear go into a situation with courage. So one of the things that he’s noted for his saying was the quote that there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politics, nor popular, but one must take a position because conscience says that it’s right.”

    Gentry shared numerous examples of how King showed compassion, collaboration, and courage. And then he also set out a challenge.

    “We now see many instances now where people’s hearts cam turn cold,” Gentry said. “We see that now. Some say it’s because of the pandemic where people have become just cold and distant and reserved and not wanting to connect with others for superficial reasons.

    “We want to celebrate the life and legacy of a man,” he said. “Can we embody one of the principles that still has relevance today? The principle of compassion? What about the principle of collaboration? In Swahili the (way the) word is used speaks about unity connected with other people who may not look like you, who may not dress like you, who may not have the same sexual preference that you have, but you can look together in the same direction instead of overly being vexed by looking at each other but looking together at the same direction. Can we collaborate with someone else?

    “Because that principle was spoken in his words, none of us are safe until all of us are safe, whatever affects one of us directly affects us all indirectly,” Gentry said. “The power and the principle of collaboration, the courage, the principle of courage, something that we need more of today because in order to live well, we've got to have courage, we must have courage to step up and speak out. We don’t need to be on the stage or on the platform. There are occasions for us to speak up when we go to the grocery store. There are occasions for us to step up and speak out when we go to the mall, when we go to the health club, when we walk out of this room. … Do you have the courage to do that?”

    Fort McCoy Garrison Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Chad Maynard thanked Gentry for his presentation.

    “Thank you for giving us a deeper look and maybe opening our eyes to Dr. King’s three principles that you talked about, and how we can carry that into our military lives and our everyday lives,” Maynard said.

    The event was coordinated by the Fort McCoy Equal Opportunity Office. For more information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work or to find other events related to the holiday, visit

    Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.”

    Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

    The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”


    Date Taken: 01.24.2023
    Date Posted: 01.24.2023 14:15
    Story ID: 437162

    Web Views: 161
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