MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Decades have passed since the Rev. Clay Evans penned the lyrics to “I’ve got a testimony,” and the song had special meaning for the guest speaker at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ceremony held at the Base Chapel ,Jan. 12.
Beginning his speech with the lyrics to the hymn, Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, Maintenance Center Albany, sang the first few lines: “As I look back over my life and I think things over, I can truly say that I’ve been blessed, I’ve got a testimony.” The theme for this year’s celebration was “Products of the Dream.”
“My testimony is that I am an example of Dr. King’s dream and while there are still gaps, we have made significant progress. African-Americans have made significant achievements in the past number of years, thanks to pioneers like Dr. King,” Reid said. “A personal realization of the dream has allowed doors to open for me over the past 26 years to work my way through the ranks of our Marine Corps.”
Reid noted the Marine Corps reflects the diversity hoped for in the dream because 6 percent of the officers in the Corps are African-American. Using himself as an example, he noted the changes that have taken place over time, reflecting a progression that has gone from blacks not having the right to vote to the election of the country’s first black president.
Pointing at the panel of speakers on stage, Reid said “of the 24 African-American colonels in the Marine Corps, three are stationed here at MCLB Albany. This day means a lot to me and it is not a black holiday, but a people’s holiday,” he said. The event was sponsored by the Albany Area Chapter of Blacks in Government.
“Colonel Reid’s remarks were applicable to the Marine Corps family because of the freedoms and rights that Marines fight for everyday,” said Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, president, BIG. “These freedoms are reflective of Dr. King’s love for humanity and sometimes we take these rights and freedoms for granted. We are moving in the right direction, but still have a long way to go.”
Wilson agreed that while progress has been made, people have not gotten to the place of universal love that Dr. King envisioned. Reid encouraged everyone inside the packed Base Chapel to reach back and help someone else along as we all do our part to carry out the dream.
“I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I do believe that our greatest purpose in life is to love. I pray we don’t get so caught up in self that we forget to reach back and help others,” Reid said. “Imagine if we all did that for just one more person, what type of impact could we make on that dream here in Albany, Georgia?”
Col. Drexel Heard, director, Distribution Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said it is important to remember that this ceremony is about celebrating the vision of all civil rights leaders who contributed and supported the pursuit of justice and prosperity for not just the black community, but all Americans.
“As we move forward, it is important to remember that we are all ‘Products of the Dream.’ That dream was for unity, justice and betterment for us all,’ Heard said. “I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, during the 50s and saw the best and worst that people had to offer.
“I vividly remember bus and school segregation and what my parents en-dured to make my life better,” he said.
Heard said he is proud to be a product of that dream and not a day goes by that he does not wonder if he made his parents proud.
“Being ‘Products of the Dream’ does not mean that the battle has been won. It merely validates that it will continue to take the collective energy of our city, state and national leaders to positively impact change,” Heard said. “America is seen as a beacon of hope and we must all embrace it.”