ALBANY, Ga. - ‘Never forget where you came from and always give back’ is the motto of Nathaniel Lowman, commanding officer of the Albany Young Marines, and retired Marine Corps master sergeant.
Lowman has lived by these words for the last 35 years and because of his service to the surrounding communities, he was awarded the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Award during a ceremony held at the Albany James H. Gray Sr. Civic Center, Jan. 21.
“Nathaniel Lowman was nominated and selected because of his military service and civilian leadership,” Randolph Scott, executive officer, Albany Young Marines, said. “He embodies this year’s theme, ‘Living the Dream: Dream with Vision; Live with Purpose.’”
Scott, who retired with the rank of master gunnery sergeant, said he nominated Lowman because of his work with the Albany Young Marines and the many other civic organizations he is involved in.
Lowman said it is an honor to be one of few to receive such an award.
“The award means a lot because just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I want to make a difference,” he said.
According to Lowman, his desire to help those in need stems from firsthand experience.
Born in Manhattan, N.Y., Lowman grew up in a family of 12, eight boys and four girls.
In 1967, his family moved to Tampa, Fla., and at age 7, he was diagnosed with a learning disability.
“I had trouble learning throughout school,” he said. “When I attended H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, a tutor from the University of Tampa, Florida, began to help me,” he said. “He worked with me on my math and reading and it is because of him that I began to see life differently.”
To keep out of trouble, Lowman participated in several sports including football and wrestling.
Before graduating, Lowman’s mentor told him to ‘never forget where you came from and always give back.’
According to Lowman, his payback time began at the age of 17 when he joined the Marine Corps, June 13, 1978.
“I started volunteering at my first duty station, Okinawa, Japan, in 1978,” he said. “I remembered what my tutor said and from that day on, it became my motto.”
Lowman retired from the Marine Corps in 2002 after 25 years of service. He is the first person in his family to join the military and to earn a college degree.
“For 25 years, I gave everything I had to the Marine Corps and in the defense of my country,” he said. “Today, I continue to give back to the Corps by taking what I have learned and applying it to the Young Marines Program here in Albany.
“My passion is young people,” he added. “Children in today’s society are misguided. They are not bad; they just need some guidance in the right direction.
“In the Young Marines Program, we put them through boot camp and they love it,” he said. “They enjoy the challenge of the physical fitness test and rewards such as ribbons and promotions. We even have tutors to help those with learning disabilities.”
“If it were not for the person who helped me, I probably would not be here right now,” Lowman said. “Volunteering and mentoring is my passion and I will probably continue to do it until the day I die.”