TIKRIT, Iraq — Before the sun could emerge on the horizon of northern Iraq's morning sky, service members and civilians united to walk in celebration and honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Jan. 15.
Born 81 years ago in Atlanta, King grew to become a man who symbolized hope, will and personal courage.
In August 1963, as he looked out among thousands of civil rights supporters at the March on Washington, King spoke of a dream where "one day [the] nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed ..." and where people aren't judged by "the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
"Dr. King was not about one race of people, he fought for the equality of everybody," said Maj. Timothy Blackwell, of Lawton, Okla., the executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan.
"He was one of the bravest people in the history of our nation," Blackwell said. "To stand up and continue on through the bombings, the crowds and things being thrown at him, and the jailing to constantly stand up and fight is an absolute example of personal courage."
Throughout the crowd of 200 service members and civilians who came to honor King were a variety of faces, cultures and ethnicities. Unified through belief and gratitude instead of race, the crowd represented a dream fulfilled and a dream that is being fought for in Iraq.
"We look at this country and the justice that is being done [here] along with the works [of individuals] who are [standing] for justice and equality to unite their country," said Sgt. 1st Class Sherry L. Williams, the brigade's equal opportunity adviser with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th IBCT. "If [the walk] is a small symbol of what they are going to do, then today is a successful day."
This work, Hundreds unite to honor a King, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.