The President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds was packed Monday morning for a celebration of the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The event marked the 19th such celebration in Kitsap County and fell on the 50th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Monday’s event also dovetailed with President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
The event was sponsored by the City of Bremerton, Kitsap County commissioners and the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church and featured the MLK Community Choir, a group that includes parishioners from various churches across the county. Youngsters from the Burley Glenwood Elementary School Choir also sang Monday and a group of high-school students performed as well.
Several pastors were on hand, as was Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, Bremerton City Councilwoman Faye Flemister, Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch and many other dignitaries. The mistress of ceremonies was Washington State Appeals Court Judge Robin Hunt.
This year’s keynote speaker was Bremerton City Council President Greg Wheeler who reflected on King’s famous sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct.” Wheeler said described King as a shrewd student of human nature that understood peoples’ instinct to want to be the drum major leading the parade.
“Dr. King encourages us to seek greatness, but to do so through service, by harnessing our intelligence, talents, and compassion and using them not for personal gain but for the greater good,” Wheeler said. “He asks us to strive to be first in love, in moral excellence, and in generosity.”
Wheeler noted that there are times when a person needs to do some soul searching and recognize that someone else might be the best person to serve as the drum major.
“And, when we recognize this fact, we should all get behind them and support their efforts,” Wheeler said. “Each of us—including one of your local politicians—needs to realize that we don’t always have to be the drum major. Often it is just as important for us to be members of the band because without our willing and enthusiastic support, the drum major can accomplish very little—no matter how talented and dedicated he or she may be.”
Wheeler noted that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Everybody Can Be Great, Because Everybody Can Serve” and encouraged folks to find ways, large and small, to serve.
“Sometimes the smallest acts of generosity and kindness have the most lasting and powerful impacts, and we can all find the time for that,” Wheeler said.
He also talked about community service on a larger scale.
“Through your service you will not only achieve greatness for yourself but for our entire community as well,” he said. “A lifetime of service is the greatest legacy we can leave to our families, friends, and community.”
Wheeler closed his speech by asking attendees, “to please continue in your church’s tradition of service and to be a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness in our community, and I will willingly sign on to be a member of the band, wholeheartedly supporting your efforts.”