FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division hosted the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance Jan. 15.
The ceremony, held at Fort Wainwright’s Physical Fitness Center, included music from the 9th Army Band and a performance by local recording artist Willa Watts.
This year’s theme, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on, not a day off!” was reiterated by guest speaker Rodney Gaskins, Fairbanks Rescue Mission executive director. Gaskins began his work in nonprofit community service in 2003 after retiring from 20 years of service in the Army.
“Dr. Martin Luther King is remembered as a great black leader, but he was really a great American leader,” said Gaskins. “If he were here today, he wouldn’t want me talking about his many accomplishments and contributions in civil rights, race relations, and economic justice; he would want an update on where we’re at. And I would say, ‘Sir, we’ve come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to be done.’”
Those in attendance heard a message about not just remembering but doing.
“His message was about compassion and service,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Bandy, the equal opportunity noncommissioned officer for 1/25 SBCT. “He wanted us to get out there and do something, to make a difference.”
Gaskins’ military service is reflected in his compassion for serving.
“Like everyone in this room,” said Gaskins, “I know that freedom isn’t free. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘Anybody can serve; you don't have to have a college degree to serve, you don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve, you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.’”