A tribute to Dr. King

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Airmen and Americans on Monday, January 18, 2010 will observe what would have been the 81st birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King's life was ended in1968. His work advancing peace, equality and resolutions without violence was stopped by a senseless violent act. One can only speculate on what he could have accomplished had he lived.

Retired Air Force Col. Tom Schluckebier, former 66th Air Base Wing commander, Hanscom AFB, Mass., wrote a compelling commentary a few years ago. Here are some of his comments;

"As a tribute to Dr. King, I hope we will all take at least a few minutes on Monday to reflect on Dr. King's message and then spend some more time thinking about what we can do to spread his message as we go about our daily routines.

It may be as simple as telling our children about Dr. King or it may be as significant as giving a commanders call briefing on the importance of respect for others, the positive power of diversity and the need for equal treatment.

For Air Force members -- civilian and military -- Dr. King's message of respect for others is an essential cornerstone to our three core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.

That's why the Air Force promotes an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that prevent Air Force members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible. This type of environment starts with respect for every member of the Air Force team regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or gender.

Dr. King's famous statement, "I have a dream that one day...sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood," is really one way of depicting an environment of mutual respect and appreciation.

A phrase that you've probably heard uttered by numerous Air Force leaders is, "People are our most valuable asset." This statement is very true. It isn't the aircraft or the weapon systems that accomplish a mission -- it's the people. Each person has a tremendous amount to offer to the Air Force, but if they are weighted down by the barrier of disrespect, they cannot reach their full potential.

Respecting each other regardless of differences and recognizing the valuable role each member of our military family plays is imperative.

In the years since Dr. King was born, much has changed in both the world and the military, but the fundamental need to respect others remains constant. On Monday, we pay tribute to Dr. King -- his courage, his leadership and his message. What a great reminder that we all play a vital role in the world's greatest Air Force and we all deserve the respect that Dr. King so aggressively sought for all people."