Army Reserve mom, daughter share ‘Day On’ during MLK Day

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris | 99th Readiness Division | Jan. 22, 2019

WILLINGBORO, N.J. — The unchanging theme for the annual observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!”

Cheryl Lewis-Taylor, who serves as command secretary for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, joined millions of her fellow Americans Jan. 21 in turning this theme into action.

“We’re volunteering at our local library, Willingboro Township Library, to help with food collection, donations for Soldiers – anything to help Burlington County residents as well as those serving overseas,” said Lewis-Taylor, who serves as a Soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve’s 353rd Civil Affairs Command in Staten Island, New York.

“It’s a day you want to put your mark on, to say you participated in something to help change things or to try to make something better for your fellow man,” added Lewis-Taylor, a 15-year Army veteran who has deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. 

This year marked the first time that Lewis-Taylor’s daughter Reagan volunteered alongside her mother.

“My daughter learned about MLK in school last year; she calls him, ‘Martin Luther, the King!’ said Lewis-Taylor with a laugh. “I explained from there about what he did, what he meant, what he stood for. I try to make it as easy for her to understand as possible.

“I tell her that MLK stood for everyone to be nice to each other, and for everyone to care for their brothers and sisters and friends, and to be kind to people,” she continued. “This is her first time volunteering so she can actually see what is behind the words that I tell her, so she can put action to words and understand a little bit better what it means to be kind and help others.”

The same sense of duty and selfless service that drives Lewis-Taylor to volunteer on MLK Day has spurred her and millions of Americans like her to volunteer to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve and help make it the most capable, combat-ready and lethal federal reserve force in the nation’s history.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this Earth,’ by Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress,” Lewis-Taylor said. “Volunteering is hard, but we have to keep in mind that there are people in need 365 days a year. If you can’t do it on MLK day, at least try to incorporate it somewhere in your schedule.”

“That’s what MLK was all about – helping your fellow man,” she said.