CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
During the 1960s, when the American civil rights movement was at its peak, one man stepped up and led the charge for racial equality.
That man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., dedicated most of his life to helping others and fighting for what he thought was right. Forty-seven years after delivering the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, Americans throughout the world are preparing to celebrate his birthday, which was recognized as a national holiday in 2000, with the motto ‘A Day On, Not a Day Off.’
According to the official Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service Web site, www.MLKday.gov, the motto represents King's undying work ethic and selfless service to others. The Web site encourages all individuals to be productive in their communities on MLK Day.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Leland L. Quilalang, a I Marine Expeditionary Force staff sections clerk, said the day represents how far the nation has come since the civil rights movement.
“This is a day to remember the type of world Martin Luther King envisioned for all of us,” he said. “It’s not just a day off from work.”
King, who was assassinated in 1968, preached nonviolent resistance and racial equality. He rose to prominence in the mid 1950s and continued his fight for freedom until his death.
“Without MLK, we wouldn’t be the nation we are today,” Quilalang said. “He was a major milestone in the civil rights movement.”
With the military being such an ethnic melting pot, the teachings of King are still prevalent today, said Quilalang.
“The military as a whole is very diverse in ethnicity, culture and religion,” he said. “Even after his death, Dr. King is still uniting us together.”
Quilalang said even though the nation has come a long way since the 1960s, there is still progress to be made.
“Even today, it is not a perfect world,” he said. “MLK Day should remind us that we still have a long way to go.”
For more information on Dr. King or to find community service opportunities in your area please visit, www.MLKday.gov.