Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Donnie Tuck, Hampton City mayor, attends a ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 17, 2019. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, before he turned 40 years of age. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent advocate for civil rights and a beacon for minorities searching for equal protection under the law.

Members from Joint Base Langley-Eustis gathered to celebrate King’s life and legacy during ceremonies held on Jan. 15 and 17, 2020.

This year, the theme of “A day on, not a day off”, is a reminder to follow some of King’s most important messages.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Fort Eustis ceremony included speeches from guest speakers U.S. Army Capt. Octavia Blackwell, Delta 1-222 Aviation Battalion commander, and Christopher Newport University professor Matthew Harshman.

“Dr. King was a man of vision, a dreamer, passion and courage. A man of commitment,” Blackwell said. “He dedicated his entire life to a cause that was greater than his self-interest. A cause that shifted the foundation of this nation.”

Langley Air Force Base members conducted a unity walk from the Community Commons to the Langley Base Theater before the ceremony, hosted by the Langley AFB African American Heritage Council. The Langley ceremony featured guest speaker Darrell Harris, 7th Transportation Group integrated logistics support manager, Sayres and Associated Corp.

“One of the things Dr. King always spoke of was excellence and we heard him say no matter what it is you do, be excellent,” Harris said. “We have to integrate our society by education, gaining intellect and using it wisely, and stay focused on being excellent.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was tragically cut short before he turned 40 years of age. In the time before his death, King and others from the Civil Rights Movement helped to alter the system of inequality in our country and help make a better world for the underprivileged.