78th Signal Battalion hosts 2016 MLK Day observance
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- The "Mighty" 78th Signal Battalion hosted Camp Zama's annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Jan. 14 in the Community Activity Center's auditorium.
MLK Day is a federal holiday honoring the birthday (Jan. 15, 1929) of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - leader of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and '60s whose goal was to achieve equality for black Americans under the laws of the Constitution.
According to archives.gov, MLK Day has been observed every third Monday in January since 1986 and serves as a time for Americans to reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change espoused by King.
The ceremony's theme was "A Day of Service" and Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry, command sergeant major of 311th Signal Command (Theater), Fort Shafter, Hawaii was the keynote speaker.
"Dr. King devoted his life to serving others and his message transcends national, racial, religious and gender borders," Curry said to the audience.
Curry said King's dream of racial equality is for all people regardless of color and the Armed Forces of the United States has it right.
"We are by no means perfect, but we are on a glide path that is conducive to good order and discipline in equal rights for all who serve," he said.
Curry provided examples of "equal rights for all who serve" by recognizing four Soldiers and sharing their personal stories of being inspired by King to overcome obstacles to find equal opportunity for success in the U.S. Army.
The Soldiers included: Spc. Luis Molina, information technology specialist assigned to 78th Signal Bn.; Sgt. Jude Deristile, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer assigned to 287th Signal Company; Capt. Vinh Khang Do, company commander of 287th Signal Company; and Command Sgt. Maj. Samantha Shirley, command sergeant major of 78th Signal Bn.
Shirley said it was a great honor for her to be recognized during the observance ceremony.
"As someone who grew up and was discriminated against as a young female and being poor, Dr. Martin Luther King's speech "I Have a Dream" really rings through with me," she said.
Do said he admires King's faith and persistence in believing in humanity because it is easy to give up and believe in the worst of people.
"I believe people in his time gave him plenty of reasons to believe in the worst of humanity," he said, "but he never gave up believing in his faith and that we could rise to be better."
The ceremony concluded with remarks and presentations by 78th Signal Bn. Commander, Lt. Col. Thaddeus Underwood, followed by a cake-cutting reception.