Virtually every Federal Holiday is associated with some commercial symbol: Decorated Easter eggs, cornucopia, fireworks, or jack-o-lanterns all conjure some image of the underpinning occasion. One American holiday, though, doesn’t so much reflect on service, as to beckon us to service.
In what started as a series of local celebrations, then State recognitions, the third Monday in January is now reserved on our American calendars as a day of reflection on how each of us may rise to our best potential. What makes this particular day upon which we celebrate the birth of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so special is that we now enjoy a reflective lens more than a half-century deep since his assassination. The words of this world-renowned minister and civil rights leader ring no less true today, than they did when he walked the Earth. Many of us remember this giant among men for a single speech rendered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he shared his dream that his children would one day live in a world where they would be measured by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.
But for those who serve and served in our Armed Forces, this clarion call to service is nothing new. In fact, Kentuckians are renowned for their hospitality, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves when called upon. Where these two concepts intersect of treating one another with dignity, and doing our best for a cause greater than ourselves you’ll find a Kentucky Veteran. And while many Americans will go out of their way to render some service to their communities on this January 21st, our Veterans are involved and engaged every day of the year. Whether cleaning up a city park, camping with some Troop of Scouts, or coaching a little league team, our Veterans are likely there, right in the mix. The celebration of the life of this one Civil Rights icon presents a unique opportunity for service rendered by countless others.
To that end, I hope you’ll join many of us in the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs in taking the day to serve in your community and across the Commonwealth. Perhaps, even visiting with an aging Veteran or a Wounded Warrior, and learning of their remarkable lives.
Warmest wishes for a joyous MLK Birthday celebration, and hoping you take the opportunity to thank a Veteran for their service – to our Great Nation, to our Commonwealth, and in our communities.
Benjamin F. Adams, III
Brigadier General, Retired, US Army
Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs