By Maj. Brian Burns | 14th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is widely recognized as a pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and a pivotal leader of the civil rights movement. During his lifetime, King strove to realize the dream of communities united by inclusion.
In 1983, the observance of King’s birthday was signed into law, making it a federal holiday. Eleven years later in 1994, the day was designated as a national day of service, a “day on, not a day off.” This day of service is meant to move us closer to King’s vision of a “beloved community.”
To mark the occasion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, hosted the observance Jan. 22, 2020, at the Elkhorn Conference Center. The event encouraged those in attendance to live up to the purpose and potential of America to make this country a better place to live.
Each year, on the third Monday in January, Americans across the country answer King’s call to action by serving their communities and volunteering their time to make a difference.
Fort Carson and the 4th Inf. Div. have a long tradition of supporting the surrounding communities. From preparing Thanksgiving meals and feeding more than 3,000 people, to bringing joy to children with sensory processing disorders at the Fountain Library; the “Ivy” Division remains engaged.
The 4th CAB commander opened the observance by challenging the audience to keep King’s vision.
“Dr. King really focused on improving our communities,” said Col. Scott Myers. “I charge us all to think through how we can do that better. Whether it’s in your unit, with your Family, friends or in the Colorado Springs community.”
Michael Sawyer, who has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Africana Studies and was the guest speaker for the event, followed with a powerful retelling of when his father was not allowed to vote in 1963.
Shortly after being turned away from the polls, his father was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight with the 4th Inf. Div. in Southeast Asia. After his service, Sawyer’s father returned home and moved to Chicago, where Michael Sawyer was born in 1967.
“I was the first Sawyer who was born with the expectation of having the right my father and grandfather were denied,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer ended his speech by linking King’s life and the idea of volunteering to a passage in the Bible; comparing King’s life of sacrifice for a noble cause to that of David, who left a temple unfinished for the Lord. The correlation being that there is much work to be done to finish projects, which are intended to make the world a better place.
Those places include the same division Sawyer’s father was drafted to in 1963, which allows people like Sgt. Azaria Jack to serve in the same division.
“(King’s) vision paved the way for us today,” said Jack, a mortuary affairs specialist with the 404th Aviation Support Battalion, 4th CAB.
“He made it to where people of my ethnicity have a better opportunity to achieve the goals that I have achieved now and will achieve in the future.”
The observance concluded with a reciting of King’s final “Mountaintop Speech.”
King delivered the same speech to a crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968, to address economic injustices and inspire change. King was assassinated the following day at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
King’s vision continues to impact the lives of many Americans today.
“Remember! Celebrate! Act!”