Base celebrates legacy of King
A praise dance group performed at a base celebration of Martin Luther King's legacy Jan. 18. Maxwell chapel held a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating the life and work of the famous civil rights activist. (Air Force photo/Melanie Rodgers Cox)
Base celebrates legacy of King

by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs

1/27/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Maxwell chapel held a memorial service Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating the life and work of the famous civil rights activist.

During his invocation, Chaplain (Capt.) David Del Prado called attendees to walk in the footsteps of the late King.

"We remember the heart of a man who surrendered his life to you in heartfelt service to God and country," Del Prado said. "During our gathering today, may we earnestly ponder the heart of service that Dr. King modeled and passionately desire to reflect that example."

The service honored King through song and movement. Laron Washington from the 42nd Air Base Wing Equal Opportunity office, performed a song and a group performed interpretive movement.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Nathan Turner, the keynote speaker, highlighted King's accomplishments and celebrated the deep impact he had on the American civil rights movement.

"Dr. King's dedication to the advancement of civil rights was simply superb. During an 11-year period between 1957 and 1968, Dr. King travelled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest and action, and he still found time to write five books. He caught the attention of the entire world," he said. "Not even an assassin's bullet could kill his dream."

Turner encouraged attendees to continue to pursue King's "dream."

"When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can let it define you, you can let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you," he said. "Whatever you are faced with today, remember that trouble doesn't last always. Keep on trusting and keep on believing because someone is depending on you. Do not quit."

Turner closed with a personal story describing how King's legacy impacted his life. After Turner's uncle returned from Vietnam, he stopped at a restaurant in Waco, Texas, but the restaurant refused to serve him.

"When I asked my uncle what was wrong he said, 'I came back after fighting in a war, and my own country did not receive me.' The owner of the restaurant came to him and said, 'Sir, we will take you out back, and there you can eat. We'll serve you there.' Fast forward to today, this old chief walked into Applebee's on Veterans Day, and I was received with a hero's welcome. Later that night, I went to my favorite spot, the Olive Garden. There, I took the world-famous Alabama sweet tea and held it up to heaven and said, 'Uncle, you can have a seat now.'"

At the close of the ceremony, 42nd ABW Commander Col. Brian Killough thanked Turner for the speech he gave and the service he has given Maxwell, awarding him the wing commander's coin.

"There's a good book I know that says you are not guaranteed tomorrow, but you were destined to be here today. He (Turner) brought a message that we all need to listen to," Killough said. "The word 'outstanding' gets used too much, but if you look up the definition of the word 'outstanding' in the dictionary, there's a picture right beside it of Nate Turner."