USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Every year, on the third Monday in January, American schools, businesses and government offices close to acknowledge the national holiday honoring the life and work of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Since 1994, this holiday's organizers have attempted to evolve Martin Luther King Jr. Day into a day of community service, boasting the theme, "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A day on, not a day off."
This year, Sailors aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) took the holiday's theme to heart and paused from a long day of work to congregate and share songs, poetry and speeches written or inspired by King. The celebration was organized by the newly-formed Carl Vinson cultural committee, which was established to recognize the diverse cultures that make up the ship's crew.
"Dr. King once made a statement that one day, his four little children would walk hand-in-hand with little white children," said Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Dennis Scott, the program's main speaker. "And when you look around Carl Vinson today, you can see people representing many different cultures and races fighting together for the same country that Martin Luther King fought for."
For many in attendance at the ceremony, Scott's speech and inspirational songs performed by Vinson crew members captured the spirit of the holiday by bringing together Sailors of all races in the spirit of King's message.
"It was harmonious for all of these people from various backgrounds to come together and uplift the spirits of the crew," said Legalman 1st Class (SW/AW) Victor Robinson. "I was very impressed by all of the performances."
To honor King's lifelong struggle for equality and racial unity, several members of the ship's crew read passages from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
"I volunteered to be one of the readers of the speech, because it has had a major impact on my life," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Eric Owens. "I have always admired Martin Luther King and his message of unity."
It was King's message that inspired one Carl Vinson Sailor to spearhead the cultural committee that organized this year's event.
"I knew that I wanted to do something," said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Dexter Montgomery, cultural committee founder and key organizer of the event. "I went out and started the Martin Luther King Jr. committee, which eventually turned into the cultural committee."
Montgomery sought the support of his chain of command and shipmates of various races, ranks, genders and cultures to help with the ceremony.
"We are a piece of America floating," said Montgomery. "So, it's especially important for us to celebrate and bring awareness to our diversity and our brotherhood."
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.