How will you answer the MLK Day question?
Hello military community,
As the new year begins and we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I would like everyone to remember why this day is so special. It is not because you get the day off from work or school and can have a cook out, or sleep in.
Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday that celebrates the life and achievements of a great man. Dr. King believed acts of service were the great equalizer. “Everybody can be great, “he noted, “Because everybody can serve.”
“The Beloved Community” is a term that was first coined in the early days of the 20th Century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation. However, it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., also a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning, capturing the imagination of people of goodwill all over the world. For him, it was a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to, and trained in, the philosophy and methods of non-violence to improve country and community.
Over the years, this federal holiday has transformed into a national day of community service in which Americans come together and work to help one another for a variety of great causes that benefit those in need – from something as simple as cleaning a neighborhood cemetery (which my husband’s armory did last year) to a more intensive commitment such as becoming a mentor.
The key is to give of yourself in some way to help others. You may want to volunteer in a range of efforts or make a sustained commitment to a single cause. There is no shortage of work to be done or lack of ways to get involved.
This year I would ask for attention to focus on our military community. Supporting and strengthening our military families is both critical to the Nation’s security and a moral obligation. I understand that many Americans are tired of hearing and supporting the never ending wars overseas. But it is vital that American communities understand what our troops and our families have faced and will continue to face on a daily basis in the name of freedom; and use that knowledge to simply, positively, and productively help our families address the challenges that service to our country has imposed upon them.
Our military community needs our support. Each day the number of service members separating from the military and return to civilian life increases. All of these veterans and families face challenges (that most civilians never will) of varying degrees: reintegration, employment, education, rebuilding and maintaining a strong family unit, isolation, drug /alcohol abuse, PTSD, physical injuries, traumatic brain injury, homelessness, suicide – the list is endless. While government and nonprofit services for active duty, veterans, and their families are increasing in some communities across America, there are still significant gaps and lack of funds and volunteers.
Through the president’s call to services in 2013, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) encourages organizations to honor MLK Jr. Day by volunteering for projects that support veterans and military families, educate communities on disaster preparedness, promote education and provide economic opportunities to the underprivileged. This year, CNCS created a library of free materials to help spread the word about events or to reward volunteers. You can find the catalogue of materials including bookmarks, posters, stickers, buttons, fact sheets, and video/audio resources along with organization to volunteer your time and or resources at www.nationalservice.gov.
Here are some ways you can engage with and serve veterans and their families on MLK Day and throughout the year.
- Help a military family – check out the “how to help military families toolkit”
- Organize a welcome home and Thank A military family project
- Organize a veterans oral history project
- Organize a recurring sports game for military community
- Organize a résumé preparation workshop for the military
- Organize a moms day away, kids time to play day
- Educate employers to better understand how to hire and retain veterans
- Educate yourself and others about the issues affecting those who serve
- Educate schools about the need to identify military children and understand their challenges
- Use the Ready, Set, Go tools brought to you by Operation Military Kid
- Organize an Operation Hero Pack Project
- Organize a mock interview workshop for veterans
- Place flowers at a local war memorial or cemetery and/or help clean it
- Visit a local VA Medical Center or people in your community who served in the military
- As a veteran to speak at your school, organization, neighborhood association, etc.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing for others?” On MLK Day, Dr. King’s dream of a nation of freedom and justice for all becomes every American’s dream as people throughout the country come together to answer his question.
So, how will you?
Blessings from my family to yours,
If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at Kim@MilitaryResourceBooks.com and visit my website at MilitaryResourceBooks.com for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.