Eighth Army pays tribute to civil rights pioneer
USAG YONGSAN – The 1st Signal Brigade, Eighth Army hosted an observance at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 14, in honor of civil rights pioneer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The ceremony was just one of many scheduled to take place throughout the Eighth Army's footprint in celebration of King's birthday.
Col. Dexter F. Harrison, director of U.S. Forces Korea Joint Cyber Center, was the keynote speaker for the event and spoke to attendees on how King's vision and passion for equality helped fuel the Civil Rights Movement.
"Dr. King was an exceptional leader," Harrison said. "This is a man who graduated high school at the age of 15, taught his first sermon at…18, graduated Morehouse College at…19, [and] became [a] pastor…at the age of 25…in a time when many blacks did not graduate high school. He was the youngest person…to [ever] be awarded the Noble Peace Prize at the age of 35; all while being a husband and father of four children."
Though King did much to bring an end to racial inequality during his life, he often suffered as a result. In preparing his remarks, Harrison delved into why King was so willing to put his own safety at risk to bring change to the United States.
"Dr. King endured struggled for his beliefs," he said. "He was arrested numerous times, his house was bombed on several occasions, [and] his life was threatened before and after every appearance. So I asked myself, in light of all of his success, what would make a man endure such hardships, such struggles, to the extent that he would even give his life?"
In the end, Harrison realized that it was King's vision and selfless spirit that allowed him to undergo tremendous hardship as long as it meant helping others.
"It was his dream…that a nation could attain the highest values of human dignity, freedom, and equality for all its peoples," he explained. "A dream that one day, young black boys and young white boys could sit together at the table of brotherhood… to achieve common goals, all in a nation which valued the content of one's character, over the color of one's skin."
Throughout the hour-long ceremony, several other individuals took part including students from Seoul American High School, the Culpepper Christian Servicemen Center Gospel Choir and Sgt. Maj. Willie Grandison, who read an emotionally charged poem entitled "Wake Up," which highlighted the work still needed to fulfill King's dream.