Virtually every Federal Holiday is associated with some commercial symbol: Decorated Easter eggs, cornucopia, fireworks or jack-o-lanterns all conjure some image of the underpinning occasion. One American holiday, though, doesn’t so much reflect on service, as to beckon us to Service.
In what started as a series of local celebrations, then State recognitions, the third Monday in January is now reserved on our American calendars as a day of reflection on how each of us may rise to our best potential. What makes this particular day upon which we celebrate the birth of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so special, is we now enjoy a reflective lens more than a half-century deep since his assassination. The words of this world-renowned minister and civil rights leader ring no less true today, than they did when he walked the Earth. Many of us remember this giant among men for a single speech rendered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when he shared his dream that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
But for those who serve and served at the National Guard Bureau, this clarion call to service is nothing new. In fact, our uniformed Soldiers and Airmen, Service Civilians, and Industry Partners are each and all renowned for their hospitality, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves when called upon. Where these two concepts intersect of treating one another with dignity, and doing our best for a cause greater than ourselves you’ll find a National Guardsman, and a member of the National Guard Bureau, standing shoulder to shoulder.
While many Americans will go out of their way to render some service to their communities on this January 21st, the members of the National Guard Bureau Alumni Association are involved and engaged every day of the year. Whether hosting a Senior Leader forum, raising Scholarship funds through a car show, recognizing excellence in NGB service, or anything in between, our NGBAA members are likely there, right in the mix. The celebration of the life of this one Civil Rights icon presents a unique opportunity for service rendered by countless others.
To that end, I hope you’ll join many of us in the National Guard Bureau Alumni Association in taking the day to serve in your community and all across our Fruited Plain. Perhaps, even visiting with an aging Veteran or a Wounded Warrior, and learning of their remarkable lives.
On behalf of the NGBAA Executive Board, warmest wishes for a joyous MLK Birthday celebration; and hoping you’ll take the opportunity to thank a National Guardsman for their service to our Great Nation, across each of our 54 States and Territories, and in our communities.
Michael R. Ford
Lieutenant Colonel, Ret.,
President, National Guard Bureau Alumni Association