SOUTH CHINA SEA – He led marches and rallies across the country; his leadership of peaceful protests and lobbying to Congress directly led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964; his “I have A Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century, and in 1964 he was the youngest person to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held a ceremony on the mess decks Jan. 23, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The diversity committee on board Makin Island organized the event and had speakers read some of Dr. King’s speeches and also a first person narrative of his life.
“These events are important for remembrance and also keeping people informed of the life and influence that Dr. King had on this country,” said Chief Yeoman Ronnell Bledsoe, from Cleveland, the Diversity Committee chairman.
“Even though we are underway on deployment, we can still take time to remember and recognize what leaders like Dr. King did for our country,” said Bledsoe.
One of the committee members, Yeoman 3rd Class Yvonne Renteria, from El Paso, Texas, read the famous “I Have a Dream” speech that Dr. King gave on Aug. 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
“It was honestly some big shoes to fill,” said Renteria, “but it was a cool experience to read those words and really be able to understand what they mean.”
She went on to say, “My favorite part of the ceremony was reading about his life to everyone in attendance. For me it was an awesome experience to really get know about Dr. King as a person on top of all the things he accomplished for the country.”
“This was his dream,” said Bledsoe. “In the military, we have a huge diversity of different people from different backgrounds succeeding and leading because of what Dr. King did for equality.”
The ceremony ended with a cake cutting and a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech playing as service members from different backgrounds, races and cultures participated in fellowship together.
Makin Island, the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is on a deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing security and stability in the 7th Fleet area of operations.