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Keeping Dr. Martin Luther King's dream alive

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- On the night Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed, President Johnson addressed our nation with a heavy heart, "You can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love."

As a nation, our journey of acceptance has been long and arduous; however, I am proud to say as a people we are making great strides to understand and comprehend the power of diversity, acceptance and tolerance. We've elected our first African American as President of the United States; this historical milestone is a powerful indicator that as a nation we are making tremendous progress toward living up to the proposition that all men are created equal and we must continue striving for Dr King's dream.

No, it's not time to abandon the nine official observances the AF recognizes (Martin Luther King Jr's birthday, African American History Month, Women's History Month, Jewish Holocaust Remembrance, Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Disability Employment Awareness, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month and Women's Equality Day).

Those nine observances provide a platform for awareness and education. We must continue honoring those observances, because our past has proven, as a nation, we don't always get it right. Our nation isn't perfect, but with the dawning of each new day, we're closer and closer to achieving Dr. King's dream.

Therefore, it's imperative we accept and acknowledge our historic shortcomings and, as a nation, stand deeply rooted in the principles in which Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton and the likes believed in when they authored the U.S. Constitution. As people we will not always agree on issues and possess opposing beliefs on others but at the end of the day we're one nation.

We come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors but no one person has a greater value than another. Someone once said, "Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes ..." For the month of February (African American Heritage Month) we should walk a mile in the shoes of those African Americans who contributed greatly towards the building of our nation, try not to judge them, but gain an understanding of who they were and what they endured.

Hopefully, the day will soon emerge when all people are judged by the content of their character. But until that day, you keep making a difference and I'll keep making a difference and together, we will live out the true meaning of those perfect principles (equality, freedom, justice, democracy) spelled out in those darned-near perfect documents: the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Team Osan have a great weekend; be safe, make responsible choices and I'll see you around campus.