PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1, 2017 —
The national day of service on Jan. 16 is a day set aside to follow Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of the “Beloved Community” by serving others, a guest speaker told Naval Support Activity Philadelphia employees during a program honoring the civil rights leader Jan. 26.
Guest speaker Sheilah Vance, Esq., professor at Villanova University Law School and a Revolutionary War expert, said those who hadn’t participated in the day of service still had time to “leave their mark.”
“There is still something people can do to answer what Dr. King said is, 'life's most persistent and urgent question, what are you doing for others?'" Vance said.
Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton, DLA Troop Support commander, said during his welcoming remarks that he hoped everyone celebrated King’s birthday.
“The holiday’s theme is ‘Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on, not a day off,’” said Hamilton. “It reminds us that it is not just a day off from work. And I hope each one of us had an opportunity to help someone else or inspire someone.”
During the ceremony, Vance described the lives of African Americans during the Revolutionary War, including a Philadelphia African-American entrepreneur named James Forten.
Forten faced several hardships throughout his life, from having to support his family after his father died when he was nine, to being captured by the British army during the Revolutionary War. Later in life, he became a successful businessman and civil rights activist after obtaining the sail loft company from his former employer.
Vance also applied King’s words of wisdom to the changes America is experiencing now.
“We have a new president of the United States and new cabinet officers running our nation’s executive branch,” said Vance. “Whether you think that change is for good or for bad, as Dr. King said, ‘we may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.’”
The DLA Troop Support Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office and the NAVSUP Weapons Systems Support Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee sponsored the program.