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NEWS | Jan. 20, 2014

Camp Arifjan celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Sgt. John Carkeet IV 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Hundreds of people gathered at the Camp Arifjan theater Jan. 20 for a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday ceremony hosted by the Army Support Group Kuwait and the equal opportunity sections from the 143d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the 1st Theater Sustainment Command.

The ceremony included the singing of the "Star-Spangled Bannaer" by Army Spc. Rhonda N. Bush from the 310th Human Resources Sustainment Center, an invocation by Army chaplain (Capt.) Abdiel F. Fuentesgarza with the 19th Engineer Battalion and a reading of President Barack Obama's "Martin Luther King Jr. Day Proclamation" by Army Staff Sgt. Dustin C. Delong with the 371st Sustainment Brigade, an Ohio National Guard unit headquartered in Springfield. 

The attendees also watched the original broadcast of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Army chaplain (Maj.) Henry McCaskill Jr., the operations chaplain (forward) for the 1st TSC, accepted the 143rd ESC’s invitation to be the ceremony's guest speaker. McCaskill, a native of Greensboro, Ala., flew from Afghanistan to speak about his experience growing up in Alabama during the 1960s. 

McCaskill's father, Henry McCaskill Sr., helped organize many of the rallies, marches and meetings associated with King's civil rights movement. 

“My father took me to many of the meetings that covered topics like voting rights and access to civic services,” said McCaskill. “I was eight years old when all this happened in 1965, but I can still clearly recall the energy from those meetings . . . I’ll never forget the singing, shouting and praying.” 

McCaskill gave a detailed narrative about the challenges his father faced to include threats to burn down his home and harm his family. 

“I remember my father receiving death threats over the phone,” said McCaskill. “One night he confronted and chased off a mob wanting to burn our house down. That was life for us in Hale County, [Alabama], in 1965, though the African-American community had another name for it.”

The chaplain also expressed his respect for King as a proponent for love, equality and nonviolence; he urged his audience to mimic those qualities in their lives.

“Dr. King said that, ‘love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend,’ said McCaskill. “Even in the midst of hate and violence, King never strayed from that key message.”

McCaskill incorporates that message when he preaches to his congregation at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

At the ceremony's conclusion, Army Lt. Col. Andrew K. Tapscott, the deputy commanding officer for Area Support Group-Kuwait, presented the ceremony's chief organizers and participants with certificates of appreciation.