Skip to main content

Military Health System

MLK Day National Day of Service: Remember. Celebrate. Act.

Image of MLK infographic.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings live on today in the military. The Defense Health Agency celebrated his lasting legacy to all communities at a Jan. 17 ceremony emphasizing his birthday as a day of service. Credit: Kim Farcot, Defense Health Agency

Recommended Content:

Paving the Way for African Americans in Military Medicine: A Look Across Time | February | January

“The true measure of a man is not where he stands during periods of comfort but where he stands during periods of strife and conflict.”

With that quote, Defense Health Agency Director U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland opened the DHA’s ceremony on Jan. 17 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work and its meaning today to all communities.

The enduring theme of the day was “Remember. Celebrate. Act. A Day On, Not a Day Off” because Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the only holiday that is a National Day of Service. “His mission to work for justice through nonviolent action and community service has been passed on through the generations; it must continue with us,” said Christianne Witten, DHA’s chief of internal communications and the virtual ceremony’s moderator.

Ronald Evans on King’s Teachings and Their Impact on His Life

Ronald Evans, the ceremony’s guest speaker, strives to make the nation better one young man at a time.

He is a co-founder of the nonprofit The Hypeman Foundation, where HYPE stands for “honoring your perseverance and exceptionalism.” The foundation helps young African American men between the ages of 18-25 and beyond and makes use of a “village of support” that includes scholarships, mental health and psychological counseling, financial planning and investment, spiritual and leadership guidance, educational resources, and career planning and placement.

A U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor and 20-year veteran, Evans now teaches culinary and hospitality services at a public school in Virginia. Yet what he really instills in his students are life skills with an inspirational tone and caring touch, Witten said. “We are a stepping stone,” Evans said.

Asked if he has a favorite King quote, Evans said: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl.”

“It means you don’t just move around … you move your mind and your soul. Keep moving. That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in all his speeches,” Evans added.

Witten agreed, saying: “I think sometimes we may limit ourselves in our thinking of the impact we can have on those around us and those that are looking up to us. All of us have the opportunity to be a mentor and be a symbol of embracing growth, embracing self-improvement. We should never limit ourselves to think otherwise.”

Asked why he thinks Martin Luther King Jr. Day is important as a day of service, Evans said: “Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean we have to sit and chill. It means we have to do something better, do something to be better.”

“It’s not just how we improve ourselves, but what are we doing to invest in the communities in which we live,” Witten said.

Evans said he uses his teaching as a “life skill. I use it because these people that didn’t have mothers or fathers or somebody to come to or somebody to talk to. All people are created equal regardless of race, gender, and creed,” Evans said, “so I look at that as who can I help next?”

The military and the Military Health System “is such a model for diversity and operating toward a common purpose, a common mission that transcends any sort of barriers,” Witten said, adding: “The heart of it is treating each other with dignity, respect, compassion, and kindness from the moment they arrive.”

How King’s Teachings Still Affect Us Today

Witten asked Evans how King’s teachings have shaped our current society. ”We should continue to work together in an effort to achieve our nation’s goals of creating a more perfect union by just continuing to say ‘hello,’ continue to say ‘I love you,’” he said. “If King did it, how come we can’t do it?”

“You’ve got to get back up, you’ve got to continue to move, you’ve got to continue to do what’s right, and continue to love and grace each other, no matter what the race, no what the creed is, no matter what the color is, you’ve got to continue to do those things,” he added.

Evans also discussed when it’s time to call someone out for their behavior, building on King’s quote: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

“Sometimes, we come off as harsh, and the other person is not going to receive it well,” Evans said. “For me, I want to make sure I have a conversation with that person because you have to call it what it is. And then, how do you fix it? How do we fix it?”

Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood: The DOD and King’s Legacy

Closing the meeting, Crosland “threw down a gauntlet,” and asked that “everybody online do one thing to make somebody else feel better today. That will be a good step toward the legacy we discussed today.”

“The armed forces are stronger today because of the courage and determination of Dr. King who called upon all Americans to work together to become a stronger and more united nation,” said Gilbert Cisneros, Jr., the Undersecretary of Defense for Personal Readiness, in a Jan. 12 memo.

That means “recognizing and appreciating the diversity and unique talents of all who serve, protecting our civilians and service members from hateful and discriminatory acts, and ensuring everyone with the [Department of Defense] is treated with dignity and respect.”

“Every civilian employee and service member must do their part in fostering a culture of dignity, diversity, inclusivity, and respect,” Cisneros wrote. “We must continue to transform Dr. King’s legacy to action and work together to create lasting change that makes us stronger as a department and as a nation. We can do much more together than apart.”

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. But the day before, on April 3, 1968, King delivered his last speech at the Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee, during which he said: “Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”

That dream–his last teaching–still stands today as a watchword.

You also may be interested in...

Coast Guard Reserve Birthday

Infographic
12/30/2023
Coast Guard Reserve Birthday

Happy 82nd birthday to the United States Coast Guard Reserve! To all those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve - we salute you.

Recommended Content:

February

National Caregiver Day

Infographic
12/30/2023
National Caregiver Day

This #NationalCaregiversDay, we recognize the selflessness and generosity shown by all caregivers, especially those in the military community. Thank you for ensuring the comfort and dignity of those who need your help. Find resources here: http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/Caregiver-Resources/

Recommended Content:

February

President's Day

Infographic
12/30/2023
President's Day

This #PresidentsDay, take time to remember and honor those who served our country as commander-in-chief.

Recommended Content:

February

National Organ Donor Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
National Organ Donor Day

Organ donors can have up to eight valentines when they elect to become an organ donor and tell their family about their plans. On #NationalDonorDay, think about giving the gift of life as your legacy. Learn how to become an organ donor here: http://www.organdonor.gov/

Recommended Content:

February

National Condom Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
National Condom Day

February 13 Give your valentine chocolates this holiday, NOT an STI! This #NationalCondomDay, remember to be safe and use proper protection to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of STIs. http://www.cdc.gov/condomeeffectiveness

Recommended Content:

February

National Toothache Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
National Toothache Day

Toothaches are a painful, yet salient reminder to visit your dentist. Instead, take this as your sign to call your dentist before that happens and schedule an appointment for preventive care today. Learn about military dental care here: https://www.health.mil/dental #NationalToothacheDay

Recommended Content:

February

Great American Spit Out

Infographic
12/30/2022
Great American Spit Out

Heads up: Smokeless tobacco like chew and dip cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas! Join thousands of others in the #GreatAmericanSpitOut and QUIT TODAY. http://health.mil/TobaccoFree

Recommended Content:

February | Tobacco-Free Living

Valentine's Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
Valentine's Day

Whether you’re spending today with a special someone, a friend, or family, we hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recommended Content:

February

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Infographic
12/30/2022
Eating Disorder Awareness Week

*This #EatingDisorderAwarenessWeek, remember there is no need to struggle alone. The road to recovery is long and challenging, but help is available. Educate yourself on the signs of eating disorders to catch bad habits early and stop it before it starts. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders.

Recommended Content:

February

World Cancer Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
World Cancer Day

Cancer Moonshot aims to cut the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years. Learn how the Military Health System is doing our part (https://www.health.mil/CancerMoonshot) and check out this story of a Marine sharing his experience being diagnosed with B-Cell Leukemia while deployed. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/842418/cancer-moonshot-initiative-marine-with-leukemia-shares-his-story #WorldCancerDay

Recommended Content:

February | Cancer Moonshot

Groundhog Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
Groundhog Day

*Punxsutawney Phil is at it again! Whether we get an early spring or six more weeks of winter, have a #HappyGroundhogDay!

Recommended Content:

February

National Women Physicians Day

Infographic
12/30/2022
National Women Physicians Day

Happy birthday to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. in 1849. Today we celebrate her accomplishments and contributions and those of all women in medicine since. #NationalWomanPhysiciansDay

Recommended Content:

February

Eating Disorder Month

Infographic
12/30/2022
Eating Disorder Month

Eating disorders affect people of all backgrounds, so they can often be hard to recognize. Educating yourself on the symptoms is the best way to get people the care and treatment they need. #EatingdisorderAwarenessMonth https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders

Recommended Content:

February

Army Nurse Corps Anniversary

Infographic
12/30/2022
Army Nurse Corps Anniversary

Happy anniversary to the Army Nurse Corps! Cheers to 122 years of providing ready, reliable, and innovative nursing care. #Nurses

Recommended Content:

February

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Infographic
12/30/2022
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

#DYK that over 4 million Americans over the age of 40 are visually impaired? February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, so ask your optometrist how this and other forms of blindness can be prevented.

Recommended Content:

February
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 23, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery