Sasebo celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.
SASEBO, Japan – Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo’s (CFAS) Multi Cultural Committee (SMCC) held a celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 16.
The celebration, which was attended by Sailors, civilians and members of the CFAS Fire Department, encouraged those who attended to reflect on this year’s recurring theme, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On! Not a Day Off!” and increase their awareness of Dr. King’s contributions to society. The celebration included a series of speeches, a reading of Dr. King’s key speech “I Have a Dream,” a peace march, and cake cutting ceremony.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is really a day of service,” said Capt. Matthew D. Ovios, commanding officer of CFAS. “It calls for Americans of all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. It empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision.”
Dr. King, who would have been 86 years old on Jan. 15, was a leader in nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
“As an African American, Martin Luther King Jr. Day reminds me to always look out for everybody,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate John Offiong, the command managed equal opportunity (CMEO) manager for CFAS. “It doesn’t matter what somebody’s race, religion or ethnic background is. We are all one.”
The highlight of the celebration was a “peace march” in which participants marched across the base to honor the historical March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963, where Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream” speech to an estimated crowd of 250,000 people.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 2, 1983 and was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986.
“The celebration today helped bring to my attention that it isn’t just a day off for us, it’s a chance for us to act upon what’s right,” said Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Julio Reyes, president of the SMCC. “For me it is an honor to help promote diversity throughout the Navy, and to have the opportunity to work with people from different cultures and different backgrounds.”
The SMCC provides monthly events, ceremonies and celebrations in order to help promote cultural diversity and awareness in the CFAS community.