01/24/2013 -- Outfitted in black and white, with hands pressed over their hearts, more than a dozen students from the International Studies Elementary Charter School, Albany, Ga., lead the Pledge of Allegiance in English and Spanish during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony held here, Jan. 15.
Holding cardboard signs to remind the audience of King’s legacy, the children also sang two songs to inspire the service members, Civilian-Marines, families and guests attending the observance at the Base Chapel.
Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, welcomed the attendees and encouraged them to be visionaries.
“Visionaries set a new path that is less bleak, more hopeful and changed for the better,” he said.
Davis and guest speaker, Jennifer Robinson Watts, challenged the audience to continue King’s dream during the event themed, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off!”
Watts is the assistant public defender, South- western Judicial Circuit, Americus, Ga., and has more than 20 years of experience in criminal defense. She assists clients from many of the surrounding counties and is the lead attorney for the State Court of Sumter County.
“As I thought about the challenges and the issues that he faced back then, I began to realize they are the same challenges and issues we face today,” Watts said. “What affects one part of the country directly affects us all indirectly.”
Americans can solve the nation’s problems, she said, citing such tragedies as the numerous mass shootings that have happened recently around the country.
Watts quoted King who said, “We are tied in a single garment of destiny.”
The other parts of the country’s worries are our worries and we can solve this problem, she added.
“The last four letters of American are ‘I CAN’ and we can solve these problems,” Watts noted. “We are European-Amer-I-CANs,African-Amer-I-CANs, Asian-Amer-I-CANs, Latino-Amer-I-CANs, Hispanic-Amer-I-CANs. We are Amer-I-CANs, so we can solve this as Amer-I-CANs.”
Watts also quoted President Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person at some other time. We are the ones we are waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
“We must walk hand-in-hand as we press forward,” she said.
Staff Sgt. Juana DeLosSantos, equal opportunity advisor, Marine Corps Logistics Command, who attended the more than hourlong ceremony, echoed Watts’ sentiments.
“Regardless of where we come from, we can all come together for a common goal and answer the question, ‘how do we get there?’” she said.
In keeping with the observance’s theme, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Gospel Choir sang several songs about helping others and rising above bad times. The choir also had the entire congregation join them in the tune, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
MCLB Albany and the Albany Area Chapter of Blacks in Government sponsored the event.