Lessons of Dr. King brought to life during annual observance

Photo By Amy L. Bugala
Sgt. 1st Class Brennon Bradley, (left), Staff Sgt. Jonathan Mills and Pfc. Ashneil Wary portray neighbors discussing the growing racial tensions in America in 1963 during a short vignette at the Wiesbaden community MLK Day event Jan. 19. Scene one, set on the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, paints a picture of the frustrations felt by so many throughout the civil rights era.

“If you can’t be the sun be a star; it isn’t by size that you win or fail – be the best of whatever you are.” Quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s sermon, “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church, in Chicago, IL, on April 9, 1967  – known as the “Street Sweeper” speech.

A cast and crew of Soldier actors, volunteers and organizations brought the words and lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to life for the Wiesbaden community during the annual MLK Day observance at the Tony Bass Auditorium Jan. 19.

Hosted by the 2nd Signal Brigade, the event opened with two short scenes on stage ­­– one set in the past featuring Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, followed by one set in the present

highlighting lessons from his sermon known as the “Street Sweeper” speech.

The scenes paid tribute to the civil rights leader whose lessons of love, civility, and peace, presented in the two inspirational speeches still ring true today.

“No one really recognizes what a simple dream Dr. King had …and now 54 years later, how that dream has blossomed into an idea, into a movement, and into real action,” said Col. Jeff Worthington, commander of the 2nd Signal Brigade.

Worthington believes through diversity, service to country and volunteerism, the Department of Defense as an organization has realized that dream.

How we serve others was the key message expressed by guest speaker Michael Bartelle, vice president of overseas operations for Andrews Federal Credit Union whose remarks were inspired by themes in Dr. King’s sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” delivered on Feb. 4, 1968.

During his remarks Bartelle explained how Dr. King’s approach to the American dream was not social change just for the African American community.  “This was civility

Photo by Amy L. Bugala
In scene two, Pvt. Cayden Burns, (left), Pfc. Reginald Walden, Spc. Kevin Jackson II, portray three friends who take a moment to sit and listen to a famous sermon by Dr. King on an iPad after making disparaging remarks to two street cleaners in the park. The sermon, known as the “Street Sweeper” speech was given in 1967 and inspires the young men to put those words into positive actions.

and dignity for all people, to ensure the American dream was fulfilled by all, whether you were of color, a woman, poor, or a child.”

Bartelle encouraged everyone to harness their skills– their individual ‘drum major instinct’ — to serve others as opposed to serving yourself.

“There is no shortage of service and dedication within this room,” said the retired command sergeant major looking around at the Soldiers filling the seats of the auditorium. “I’m not preaching to the choir, I’m preaching to the preachers,” he said. “The legacy of Dr. King’s service lives within us and through us.”

The unit was inspired to take a theatrical approach to this year’s MLK event after working with the Amelia Earhart Playhouse during the Haunted House last fall said Master Sgt. Kevin Wildman, equal opportunity advisor for the brigade.

The approach provided a unique opportunity to showcase the diversity and talents of the tenant units in the Wiesbaden community.

“To be able to all come together, and bring out our talents…to join together and get something out of this —  is what it’s all about,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tonya Thurman, 2nd Signal Brigade.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Cline
Highlighting themes in Dr. King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon given in 1968, guest speaker Michael Bartelle, vice president of overseas operations for Andrews Federal Credit Union, encourages the audience to “serve others as opposed to serving yourself,” during the Wiesbaden MLK Day observance at the Tony Bass Auditorium, Jan. 19.

Thurman says fulfilling her service obligation goes beyond her service as a Soldier. “You show love and compassion just by reaching out to others and talking to them.”

Dr. King, was born January 15, 1929 and assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn. This year’s event commemorates his 88th Birthday.

The event was supported by members of the 5th Signal command, 102nd Signal Brigade, U.S. Army Europe, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.

To learn more, contact one of the Wiesbaden Community Equal Opportunity Advisors at; Sgt. 1st Class Brandt, 5th Signal Command, 565-0077; Sgt. 1st Class Davis, 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, 546-4506; Sgt. 1st Class Pechie, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, 548-0104; Sgt. 1st Class Francis, U.S. Army Europe, 537-1023; or Master Sgt. Wildman, 2nd Signal Brigade, 565-3040.