WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The annual humanitarian luncheon in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was held Jan. 18 at the Wright-Patterson Club & Banquet Center.
The luncheon, hosted by Rebecca Westlake, 88th Air Base Wing vice director, was themed “Keeping the Dream Alive: Building Bridges of Trust & Communities of Care.”
In Westlake’s opening remarks, she said, “It’s time for us to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings and how we can bring them to our present day and our present life.”
Westlake attributed the passing of the civil rights and voting rights acts to King’s commitment, actions and beliefs.
“What I task [each of] you with, is don’t let this strength die, keep it within you. We want it to be like a fire, we want it to burn within each other. We want the fire to burn so brightly so others can see it and want that [same] fire within them,” she said.
The guest speaker was Chaplain, Col. Shon Neyland who is currently the command chaplain for Air Force Materiel Command. As the command chaplain, he informs Air Force leaders on matters related to religious, spiritual, ethical, moral and morale concerns. He also advocates for the religious and spiritual needs of Airmen and their families.
He provides guidance and staff oversight for wing-level chaplain corps functions, including professional development, personnel, manpower, readiness and installation support.
He started with a comment that former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James wrote, “Our diverse Air Force is a wonderful example of Dr. King’s vision working together to serve and protect all Americans.”
When pertaining to building bridges of trust and communities of care, Neyland said he thinks of liberty and justice for all especially in the midst of a tumultuous time in our nation, where there are threats of terror, economic uncertainties, and changing atmospheres.
He reflected on President Abraham Lincoln’s heroic lead when he issued the executive order of the Emancipation Proclamation and liberated people of African descent through the Civil War.
He went on to say, “A divided nation cannot stand and one individual is not enough to repair its cracks. It will take all citizens of America coming together to stand.”
“Dr. King’s dream’s was one for equality, acceptance, dignity and respect for all mankind,” he added.
Following the presentation, Westlake presented three nominees with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.
Tech. Sgt. Deondra Parks, 88th Air Base Wing executive assistant to the command chief, was the military category recipient.
“I could not have obtained this award without the unyielding support I receive day in and day out,” said Parks. “Today, standing amongst the other nominees I was reminded that I am not alone on this mission.”
Brenda Myers, Air Force Personnel Center supervisor, received the award for the civilian category.
“I was really touched by this award because it was submitted by my peers,” said Myers. “When you discover your purpose in life select causes to devote your time and talents and treasure to, be careful to select good causes... which will produce much joy and happiness for you and for those you serve.”
The Wright-Patterson Chapel team received the award for the organization category.
“The luncheon was a huge success due to the outstanding efforts of our planning committee,” said 1st Lt. Coraviece Terry, MLK event lead coordinator. Committee members include the following: Pamela Pennix, 1st Lt. Crystal Davis, 2nd Lt. Travis Cole, Capt. Gayleen Lim, Capt. Titus Butler, Capt. Chiora Waters, Capt. Kristian Diggs, Tech. Sgt. Rommel Angeles, Tech. Sgt Carlton Holt, and Lt. Col. George Delaney, Jr.