The Department of Defense (DoD) joins the nation in celebrating of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Monday, January 20, 2014.
On August 23, 1994 Congress passed the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Holiday and Service Act. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929, so his birth date is recognized as a federal holiday and is observed on the third Monday of every January. He is the first African American civilian and the first non U.S. president to have an official, legal holiday, by Public Law (PL 98-144.)
The celebration is meant to be a day of volunteer service and by Presidential Executive Order 13401 signed on April 27, 2006, it further challenged Federal agencies to promote humanitarian efforts during the King Holiday which affords the opportunity for Americans, and the world to honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent work for equality through service.
The national recurring theme of this holiday is: “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off.” The theme of this day of remembrance calls upon all Americans to engage in public service and promote nonviolent social change.
In commemoration of this year’s observance, the Office of the Secretary of Defense will host the 29th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance Program on Thursday, January 16, 2014, from 9:00 am – 10:00 am. and will be held in the Pentagon Auditorium. This event is open to all DoD personnel and there is no cost to attend.
For more information regarding other King Holiday activities, please visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center’s website.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.
Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.
While Dr. King preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, in the final months of his life, his attention was turned to fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during Dr. King's lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line.
Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.
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