ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln's American Heritage Committee held an observance for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on the aft mess decks. The theme of this year's observance was "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off."
Ensign Theodore Scott gave the opening remarks and introduced Abraham Lincoln Battle Group Commander Rear Adm. John Kelly to the stage.
Kelly noted a lot of younger people don't recognize the significance of the events that Martin Luther King Jr. helped to happen because they weren't old enough to appreciate it at the time.
He emphasized that the theme of the ceremony was significant because the message was for everyone, old and young, to remember the importance the contributions King made.
After Kelly's opening statement, Electronics Technician 2nd Class Michael Robinson, Master Chief Machinist's Mate George Walz, and Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate Thomas Johnson all gave speeches associating with a segment of this year's theme.
Between speeches, Draftsman 3rd Class Adrian Sims and Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Kenneth Mahone added their vocal talents to the observance, singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "We Shall Overcome," respectively.
At the beginning of the ceremony, a few dozen Sailors were present, but by the end, a few hundred had gathered to see what was going on. Included in the audience were the commanding officer, executive officer, carrier air wing commander and deputy carrier air wing commander, who collectively remarked that it was one of the best observances they'd yet seen on the ship.
Scott said he volunteered to make the opening remarks to convey his feelings about the importance of observing the day.
"The progress that Martin Luther King Jr. made during his lifetime and for our time was very important and the extent of the changes he helped move forward has even made a difference to us as Sailors."
Chief Personnelman William Bell was the chairperson of the American Heritage Committee for the event and did much of the organizing for the ceremony.
"I really want to thank S-2 (food service division) for loaning us the mess decks and for the cake," said Bell after the conclusion of the celebration.
"And I'd like to thank the volunteer speakers and performers as the participants in the event. We all came together to have a successful observance of an important event that the whole command could enjoy. This year's event was more pepped up and colorful than any I've been to yet on board, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved."
The event was particularly special to Bell because it was his last as the equal opportunity advisor. At the conclusion of the ceremony, he turned the title over to Master Chief Hospital Corpsman P.K. Ryan.
"It was a perfect opportunity for a good turnover," said Bell. "I left those particular duties on a positive note."
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