WASHINGTON (NNS) -- As announced by NAVADMIN 009/12, the Navy will join the nation to observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Jan. 16.
Navy commands are encouraged to reflect on the recurring theme, "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!" and increase their knowledge and awareness of Dr. King's contributions to American history and civil rights through participation in military and community events.
King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. In 1968, amidst a country embattled in a civil rights struggle, King was assassinated.
In honor of King's unfinished efforts, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1983. In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush proclaimed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday would be observed every year on the third Monday of January. Congress passed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and Service Act, Aug. 23, 1994 designating the King Holiday as a day of volunteer service. The first observance was held Jan. 15, 1986, the anniversary of King's birthday.
Last year, Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Tiffany Jaros and Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Jacqueline Bucci celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day volunteering with a group of Sailors from Naval Station Everett. Their local United Way was in need of adult volunteers to supervise teens during their county-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day volunteer project, and the call was put out to the Navy base to see if some of the local Sailors, despite having the day off, would volunteer.
"I decided to volunteer because I love to help people, whether it is to help someone clean and move their house, or just make them smile. If it helps them have a better day, then I will do whatever I can to help," said Jaros.
Serving as adult mentors for the day, the Sailors guided local teens to clean the homes of elderly persons in the community. Many of the elderly were unable to do even the most basic home care tasks without assistance.
"I love volunteering and making a difference in others lives," said Jaros. "I had so much fun with the kids just hanging out and bonding. It's great to see kids so young have such an interest in helping others."
Despite having the day off from work, both Bucci and Jaros felt it was important as Sailors to volunteer their time during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
"It helps build relations, but more importantly all people should help others out," said Bucci.
After the group finished the initial cleaning projects, they assisted the teens with a second volunteer project that hit close to home - writing letters of encouragement to Sailors, soldiers, and airmen serving in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq.
"That to me was pretty cool not only to do myself, but to see what the kids had to say, and to answer all of their questions about the military," said Jaros. "They really were interested and so eager to learn about it all."
Jaros and Bucci both plan to volunteer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day again this year.
"Martin Luther King, Jr. Day means a lot to me. It's a day of freedom, a day of happiness and joy that someone was finally able to stand out and stand up for what they believe, just as I and every other military member do for our country every single day," said Jaros.
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