Deck Watch honors Martin Luther King Jr.


WASHINGTON - Dr. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. Photo coutesy of Library of Congress.

WASHINGTON - Dr. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963. Photo coutesy of Library of Congress.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”  These words were spoken by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who was an important civil rights activist, during his most famous speech on human equality.

He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States and was an advocate of non-violent protest.  He also became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday.  It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single “Happy Birthday” and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983.

Martin Luther King Day is a relatively new federal holiday that was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000.  For example, it is combined with Civil Rights Day in Arizona and New Hampshire, while it is observed together with Human Rights Day in Idaho. It is also a day that is combined with Robert E. Lee’s birthday in some states. 

It is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism.  In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers.

Deck Watch sat down with Lt. Randall Black, an HC-130 Hercules airplane pilot with Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, about what Martin Luther King Jr. Day means to him and if his decision to join the Coast Guard and serve his country were influenced by King’s actions as a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the U.S.

To listen to Deck Watch click here.

In other Coast Guard news this week:

Jan. 13 – District 17 watchstanders in Juneau received a phone call from a doctor at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital requesting a non-maritime transport of a 70-year-old man from the Hoonah Clinic to Sitka. The man was reportedly experiencing cardiac problems. An Air Station Sitka rescue helicopter crew safely transported the man from Hoonah to awaiting emergency medical personnel services in Sitka.

Jan. 15 – Sector Anchorage watchstanders were notified of the disabled fishing vessel Northern Spirit about 17 miles northwest of Unimak Pass. The crew of the Northern Spirit was able to make repairs to the vessel and did not need Coast Guard assistance.

Jan. 16 – Haines Clinic personnel requested from District 17 watchstanders a medevac of a 27-year-old pregnant woman. It was reported her water broke and she was going into labor a month early. A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crew safely transported the woman from the Haines Clinic to Juneau emergency medical personnel.

Jan. 19 – The fishing vessel Red Head reported an engine problem while transporting a 24-year-old woman from the Metlakatla Clinic to Ketchikan. Sector Juneau watchstanders directed the launch of two Station Ketchikan small boat crews. While the small boat crews were en route, the woman was transferred to a good Samaritan vessel with medical personnel aboard. One small boat crew escorted the good Samaritan vessel and crew to Ketchikan where she was then transferred to emergency medical personnel. The second small boat crew oversaw another good Samaritan vessel crew secure a tow to the fishing vessel Red Head.

Jan. 20 – The fuel transfer from the Russian tanker Renda began Monday and ended Thursday. The Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration have started to shift focus to outbound transit and anticipate using an Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew for ice reconnaissance flights in coordination with NOAA ice and weather products to determine a safe and effective outbound route for the two vessels.

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