Post honors MLK at event Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 February 2018
Walter Reese and Capt. Mark Preston recite portions of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech at the observance Friday.
Photo and story by Andrea Smith
Public Affairs Office
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The 3rd Chemical Brigade and the  installation Equal Opportunity Office hosted an observance and luncheon to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friday at Pershing Community Center.

Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman, a retired history teacher, served as the guest speaker for the program.

Hardman recalled what it was like growing up in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I grew up when segregation was a fact of life,” Hardman said. “As a child, I remember discussing how the world was changing through the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

After graduating high school in 1967, Hardman attended college at Henderson State University. There, she witnessed the reality of segregation.

“As the president of the dorm, I had friends who were African American and they all lived on a separate floor than we did,” Hardman said. “I realized that there were still barriers between the races.”

“I was there in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated and witnessed the heartbreak of his followers and my friends,” Hardman said. “That is something I will always remember.”

Hardman said King’s tragic death changed everything.

“Changes in the civil rights movement and discrimination have revolutionized our lives,” Hardman said.   

Hardman explained the military reflects how society should expose social problems and work for a solution.  

“After WWII, in July of 1948, President Truman integrated the military,” Hardman said. “When he issued the Executive Order 9981, he led the way for African-American Soldiers to move up the ranks.”  

Hardman explained that before 1948, African-American Soldiers were delegated to support roles and very few combat positions. However, since that time opportunities in advancement in the military have served as a "light house for young black Soldiers."

“Equality challenges will continue over the years, but I am confident that the military will lead the way in offering the inclusion that Dr. King fought so hard for,” Hardman said.

Hardman said the troubling times of history have changed the course of American society forever but society has learned from them.

“Don’t ever forget what Dr. King taught us,” Hardman said.

Following Hardman’s speech, Col.  Dale Crockett, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander, presented her with a plaque of  appreciation.  

The event also included vocal performances by the Waynesville High School Choir, a spoken word presentation of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. King recited by Walter Reese and Capt. Mark Preston, and instrumental music from the 399th Army Band.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 February 2018 )