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Naval Air Station Oceana Diversity Committee poses for a photo with commanding officer, Capt. John Hewitt, left, after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration ceremony. Naval Air Station Oceana serves as the Navy's East Coast Master Jet Base, homeport for four carrier air wings and 17 aviation squadrons.

VIRGINIA BEACH

Naval Air Station Oceana Diversity Committee held a ceremony Jan. 23 at the Hornet’s Nest Galley to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, the only non-president to have a national holiday in his honor.

Although King’s birthday is Jan. 15th, it was formally recognized as a national holiday in 1983 that would be celebrated on the third Monday of January each year.

Retail Services Specialist 2nd Class Zemario C. Sheppard, who recited King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the ceremony, spoke on the importance of recognizing King’s legacy.

“It is important to recognize his impact because, a lot of times, people feel like if they try to do something, it won’t make a difference,” said Sheppard. “Martin Luther King Jr. was one man who put his pants on one leg at a time like everybody else. That goes to show you that if you do have a dream, if you have a ‘why,’ then the ‘how’ will work itself out.”

As a civil rights activist, King held numerous inspirational marches and non-violent protests to bring light to racial injustices in the 1950s and 1960s, and changed American society by placing black people and white people as equals instead of enemies.

King’s first major civil rights action was the Montgomery Bus Boycott that was started when Rosa Parks did not give up her seat to a white man on the bus. Parks was arrested and jailed due to her actions.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for over a year and resulted in King being arrested and his home bombed. Through all obstacles, victory was won and a step toward equality was taken when segregation on the Montgomery buses ended at once.

“It’s better to dream big and shoot for that dream, because you will affect a lot of people achieving that dream,” said Sheppard, speaking on what Sailors can learn from the ceremony.

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