LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
A capacity crowd was on hand to hear retired Brig. Gen. Toreaser Steele deliver the keynote address at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative luncheon Jan. 14 at the Gateway Club.
The annual luncheon sold out before the event as nearly 300 people gathered in the main ballroom to hear General Steele's remarks, a gospel choir and a video presentation about Dr. King.
General Steele, a former 737th Training Group commander in the mid-1990s and 31-year Air Force veteran, recalled with fondness her time at Lackland and the changes that were endured during command.
"Compared to my tour more than a decade ago, they pale in comparison to the demands for change you are experiencing today," she said. "The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a servant to the people who embraced change; he desired to be God's change agent."
She cited the slain civil rights leader's desire to change the status of a people by removing the injustices that blocked their access to the freedoms that were enjoyed by others in this nation.
General Steele said Dr. King fought for non-violent social change, change in the implementation of laws and change in the hearts of the people.
"We have not been as willing as perhaps we should have been in embracing change, desiring instead to remain status quo," she said.
She then recounted how the citizens of the United States, not ethnic groups, elected Barack Obama the first African American president, drawing one of several rounds of applause during her address.
"Dr. King believed so strongly in a need for change he was willing to put his life on the line and ultimately would lose it for the sake of change to bring justice and quality to all Americans," she said.
General Steele went on to say Dr. King knew the sacrifices of freedom and that change would be required to extend those freedoms to those being denied.
"He really meant it when he said, 'Lord, send me,'" she added. "Many of you know when you make such a statement you had better be ready to go. Dr. King was ready and he went."
After citing President Obama's wish to honor Dr. King by being of service to others on Jan. 18, the official MLK Day observance, General Steele concluded by saying Dr. King's legacy is one of change through service to others.
"Dr. King touched the citizens of this great nation and others around the world," she said.