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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2019

BAMC hosts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance

By Lori Newman Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center hosted the Joint Base San Antonio Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance at the historic Fort Sam Houston Theater Jan. 17.

Brig. Gen. George Appenzeller, BAMC commanding general, provided opening remarks for the celebration.

“We are here today to celebrate and remember the achievements of a great man,” the general said. “Someone who truly understood that our nation’s greatest strength is our diversity. With that understanding he spent his life fighting for social justice.”

Appenzeller said there is a “very important distinction” between fighting for social justice versus fighting against social injustice.

“My hope for each of you is you think about what you are for, not what you’re against,” he said. “Our military family is diverse, giving, loving and we really understand what it is to take care of each other, just like he did.”

Guest speaker, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Marshall Huffman, focused on unity during his remarks.

“Dr. King taught us to dream of a better tomorrow,” he said. “To respect our neighbors. To love one another.”

Huffman shared his experiences growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1960s. He said he remembered seeing the fountains and bathrooms labeled “colored only” and ordering food at a café and having to pick it up in the back because he was not allowed in the front.

The retired command sergeant major also touched on the current division in our country today.

“More needs to be done to address the racial division in America,” he said.

“I believe that unity and healing must first start from within,” Huffman said. “When it comes down to changing a culture it’s really up to us. It’s our neighborhoods, our blocks and our communities. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl in this country should be treated with dignity and respect. No matter their background or walk of life.”

Huffman spoke about King’s philosophy of nonviolence and love.

“Dr. King’s wish may have been a tall order, but it was one he believed was possible to achieve,” Huffman said. “In large part through unconditional acts of love and kindness.”

“We must stop fighting each other, and fight together in unity to better our nation,” Huffman concluded. “Our core beliefs are what unite us and help us to succeed. We must come together in unity and complement one another.”

The observance also featured a San Antonio College student, Jimmie Steemer II, reciting the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech and a performance of the gospel song “We Shall Overcome.”

BAMC Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Oates concluded the ceremony thanking everyone who had a part in putting the event together. He also spoke about the importance of building bridges and standing together united for one cause – Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

“I ask you to keep that dream alive,” Oates said.