Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division and its districts join the nation in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the importance of this day and its impact on our lives and our organization were felt well before the holiday weekend began – through conversations that will make a difference well beyond our MLK Day celebrations.
I’m currently supporting the Transatlantic Expeditionary District team in Kuwait and have had the opportunity to get to know some amazing professionals over that last couple of weeks. As they shared their plans for the holiday weekend with me, and with one another, they also shared their thoughts, stories and feelings about what Dr. King represents to them in their lives.
While today’s holiday brings focus to Dr. King’s life and legacy, these meaningful conversations help deepen our understanding of one another, strengthen the connections between us and truly make King’s dream a reality.
Elaine Lawson, a program and management analyst with the Transatlantic Division’s Business and Integration Division, joined in on the conversations here at Camp Arifjan from the division’s headquarters in Winchester, Va., sharing via email how King’s life and words shape her life each and every day.
Lawson has long been a facilitator of meaningful conversations, not only for the current leadership, but for the next generation of USACE leaders as well. In her long-time role as the manager of the division’s Leadership Development Program, she routinely asks questions and starts conversations that inspire people to grow personally and professionally. But this time, as the division’s public affairs officer, I had the opportunity to ask Lawson a few questions. I hope you are as inspired by her responses as I am.
Carroll: What does MLK Day mean for you in your life?
Lawson: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought long and hard, in peaceful ways, for justice and equality for all people, regardless of their cultural differences. It is important for me to continue to believe in and support what he preached and spoke of for so many years and through so many challenges. I was, and continue to be, inspired by his “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speeches. The words in those speeches resonated with me when I first heard them and still have the same effect on me today.”
Carroll: Why is it important to celebrate A DAY ON, NOT A DAY OFF?
Lawson: “Dr. King served as a true advocate for our civil rights, and he should be celebrated for his positive work that affected people from all walks of life. He did not take a “day off” from fighting for what he thought was right. I believe it is important to continue the work that Dr. King so humbly put into action. It is my duty to do my part – not depend on someone else – to help make his dream a reality. We, as a society have made strides in ensuring justice and equality are afforded all people, but we have a long way to go!”
Carroll: How can we continue Dr. King’s message of inclusion and equality in our own lives?
Lawson: “I can continue Dr. King’s message of inclusion and equality by serving my community as an advocate for civil rights, involvement in education awareness programs, participating in social services sponsored events, supporting first responders and treating everyone with dignity and respect.”
Carroll: What is your favorite Dr. King quote?
Lawson: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
“So today, I hope everyone has an inspiring DAY ON and finds the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and remind ourselves – and each other – that freedom, equality and inclusion are true force multipliers and imperative to the strength of our nation.
“And as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday, let us continue to live up to the standard he set, ensure his legacy lives on and, as one USACE family, rise up to meet the challenges that remain.”
This piece is written by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Division. Want to feature your story? Send your draft here today.