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14th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps encourages MCSC to remember King's legacy

By Monique Randolph, MCSC Corporate Communications | | January 17, 2013


01-17-2013 -- By Monique Randolph, MCSC Corporate Communications

When times are hard, Americans stand together and do what is right, the Commander of Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) told attendees at the organization’s Martin Luther King celebration Jan. 17 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Speaking of Dr. King’s legacy of bringing people together in the face of adversity, Brigadier General Frank Kelley reminded the MCSC team of the challenges ahead for the Marine Corps.

“From what you’ve heard in the news lately, times are going to be even tougher,  especially for us here at Marine Corps Systems Command,” the General said. “We’re going to have to adapt, we’re going to have to meet the challenge, and we’re going to have to respond to this ever-changing environment. We’re going to have to rely more on our ingenuity than our dollars. We’re going to have to rely on our people’s passion more so than our nation’s purse.”

Kelley also reminded the audience MLK Day is “a day on… not a day off.”
“I challenge all of you to find some way to use this holiday to honor Dr. King’s legacy and continue to make our country better,” he said. “I don’t really care how you do it; I just care that you do it. Occasionally, we all need to be reminded that the freedoms we enjoy come at a cost.”

Following his remarks, Kelley introduced the keynote speaker, retired Marine Sergeant Major Alford McMichael, who became the first African American to be appointed as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps in 1999.

McMichael praised Marine Corps Systems Command for doing more than “lip service” when it comes to diversity. 

“It’s a very busy time—not just at MCSC, but for our nation—so for you all to take this time shows your commitment to diversity in our society and in country,” McMichael said. “Today is important because we have all come to reflect on a great American; an individual who not only lifted the moral courage of the nation, but of the world—the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

McMichael highlighted many of Dr. King’s accomplishments, from organizing civil rights marches and delivering some of the most memorable speeches in American history, to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He also emphasized the significant role Dr. King’s faith played in his ability to become a leader in America’s Civil Rights Movement.

“We probably all know Dr. King better for what he did than for who he was,” McMichael said. “He was a man who could give a speech that could fire up a crowd and motivate them to march down a segregated street. He was a minister. A Baptist preacher. He was a Christian. What made him capable of achieving these things was his religious foundation.”

McMichael also shared thoughts from a sermon Dr. King gave in 1954 entitled “Rediscovering Lost Values.”
In that sermon, Dr. King wanted the congregation to understand the country was in trouble not because of a lack of knowledge, scientific genius, or technological advancement, but because people had lost sight of fundamental values, McMichael said.

“Dr. King said we’re working so hard on building neighborhoods that we’re not building brotherhoods,” the Sergeant Major said. “And that still fits today. We can do all these great things, but what we have failed to realize is that we have to go back and rediscover the things we need to be efficient and effective today; love, honesty, compassion, being unified and working together.

“We all know that teamwork makes your dreams work, and that’s what [Dr. King] wanted us to do,” McMichael said.

He concluded his remarks by encouraging the audience to be the best they can be, and to always consider the welfare of others. 

“Be yourself,” McMichael said. “Love yourself completely so you can love others adequately.”