FORT POLK — Martin Luther King Jr. spent much of his life challenging the norm and igniting controversy in his crusade to change the world.

FORT POLK — Martin Luther King Jr. spent much of his life challenging the norm and igniting controversy in his crusade to change the world.

The results of his legacy have been far reaching and are honored each year. Fort Polk’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance was held Jan. 16 at the Warrior Community Center. The Fort Polk community turned out to celebrate the life and times of King through word, music and dance.

Tonia Rouehon, a Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital physical evaluation board liaison officer, said she attended the event not only because it is part of her cultural heritage but also because she thought it would be beneficial to see so many celebrate a great cause and wonderful trailblazer. “This was a nice program. It was wonderful to see so many people eager to be a part of this celebration,” she said.

Pastor Les Comeaux, First Baptist Church, New Llano and president of the Leesville Area Ministerial Alliance began with an opening scripture and then asked the audience to remember the good days more than the bad in the continuation of the struggle for equality and to remember that forgiveness is essential. “Dr. King said that forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude,” said Comeaux.

As a member of the Interdenomination of Faith Church Virtuous Women dance troop, as well as a Fort Polk Soldier, Spc. Tierra Colbert, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said it was an honor to perform. “This is a great experience. I was proud to be a part of this program because we are all united in one cause when it comes to what Doctor King did,” said Colbert.

Recounting many of the important milestones in King’s life on his journey to becoming a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement, Pastor Hilton Wells, Rivers of Living Water Word of Faith Community Church, DeRidder, said, “Today, we gather to recognize a man who lived and died for justice, freedom, equality and the betterment of mankind.”

Wells said King overcame overwhelming circumstances and risked his life to lead others and follow his dream. “He was a man who had the audacity to declare to a nation during a time of war, division and racism that he had a dream — one rooted in the heart and bedrock of the American dream — that one day, people of all races, backgrounds, colors, nationalities and creeds could come together and enjoy their divine liberty as one people,” said Wells. “We are one nation under God. Let us all live out the dream that Doctor King lived, fought and died for.  Let us make it our goal, as he did, to live together, serve together and dream together in love and unity.”

Discussing the personal aspect King had on race relations, Pastor L.F. Guy, Beauregard Area Ministerial Alliance president, spoke of King’s life as a minister and the impact that perspective had on his influence and leadership during the social conflicts of the 1960s. “He was first and foremost a preacher, a messenger called by God to deliver a message. He was one who believed that you can’t just talk the talk, but you must walk the walk.

“Like King, we too must have a dream to reach out and touch somebody else’s life, to help somebody live a better life and leave the world better than we found it. Let us keep the dream alive,” said Guy.

Yolanda Maxile, Fort Polk’s Training Support Center Visual Information project manager, said she thought this was one of the best ceremonies she has seen. “The thing I found most interesting was the information about King’s education and life as a minister. That’s the kind of thing that is sometimes overlooked,” she said.

Winston Rhym, Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group, said the Martin Luther King Day observance gave those attending the event a wonderful opportunity to listen to people from different backgrounds give their perspective of him and all he accomplished. “King was a great leader that brought people of different backgrounds together. I think celebrations like this allow people to remember where we came from so we can appreciate where we are and where we’re going,” he said.