Johnny L. Pippen, WSMR’s Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, was the guest speaker.
“Today we recognize one of history’s most consequential advocates…He understood that love and compassion will always triumph over bitterness and hatred.” Pippen said.
Pippen spoke about the importance of continuing to carry on King’s message to future generations in order to continue to make progress in areas like equal opportunity and civil rights.
“Our future will be determined by how well we prepare our next generation of leaders,” Pippen said. “We all can be products of what we call equality,” Pippen added.
During his speech Pippen took the time to honor members of the Armed Forces and civilians. He asked each to stand to be recognized. Pippen said continuing on the path for change will be hard work but a necessary part of carrying out King’s message, and in turn creating a stronger nation.
“More work still remains and we must heed Dr. King’s words,” Pippen said. “Let us continue to strive as a nation to implement and instill the values of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin, WSMR Commander, spoke about the impact Martin Luther King Jr. left on him. He stated that even at five years old, he remembers when the march took place. At ten years old, he remembers the assassination. Coffin said the assassination marked a tear in the nation’s fabric at a time when our society was trying to move forward. He said that although we have since come a long way, there is still plenty more work to be done.
“We’re not there yet. We haven’t achieved a place where we all put aside these differences and allow everybody to compete to the best of their abilities,” Coffin said.
Coffin talked about his daughter, who just recently had a son, and the dreams he had for his new grandson.
“I want him to grow up in the world that Dr. King envisioned,” Coffin said.
He said he tries to emulate King’s teachings so that his children and grandchildren can inherit the message and pass it along to their families.
The observance ended with a presentation of awards for the guest speaker, and key participants of the event. Guests were invited to stay and read stories of King’s history that were displayed along the walls.
“Thank you for what you do to uphold these values and these ideals. Let’s not allow the dream to die,” Coffin said.