Navy Leadership and MLK’s Legacy

Rear Adm. PondsThe following blog was written by Rear Admiral Frank Ponds, Commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. Rear Adm. Ponds has been invited to serve as grand marshal for Hawaii’s 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade through Honolulu, Jan. 21. He offers this personal reflection and perspective on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I grew up in the rural Alabama tri-city area of Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham in the 1960s. I saw the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement first hand. Dr. King’s legacy of equality, unity and justice for all is an inspiration to everyone in the world – no matter what creed, color or nationality.

Last summer I was invited to visit my home state as part of an official Navy outreach program to Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham and Tuskegee, where I spoke with students, veterans and community leaders. My message there, as it is here in Hawaii, was that our Navy is indeed a Global Force for Good with a rich legacy of cultural and intellectual diversity and opportunity. Like Dr. King, we believe in building partnerships and cooperation to deter war. I believe that what we share in common with others is more important than our differences.

Dr. King knew an important truth: strength comes from freedom, passion and understanding. He helped us hear what Abraham Lincoln called, “the better angels of our nature.” He challenged us to live up to our founders’ highest aspiration: “that all men are created equal.” Dr. King shared his dream, and we honor his legacy.

Dr. King was a man of nonviolence, committed to peace. We deter war when we build partnerships, maintain readiness and operate forward. Our Navy in Hawaii does that with exercises like Koa Kai and RIMPAC and by our support of humanitarian assistance missions such as Operation Tomodachi and annual Pacific Partnership. We believe a strong and properly resourced Navy can deter aggression and preserve peace. Make no mistake: Dr. King was a tough, ready and engaged problem solver. So is our Navy.

Today, the United States Navy exemplifies Dr. King’s legacy of equality, unity and justice for all. Our military and civilian workforce and supportive family members at Region Hawaii and MIDPAC are a strong, unified and capable team. We are committed to building partnerships, promoting cooperation and protecting the ideals and freedoms for which Dr. King fought and died.

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King. This thinking is what motivates many of us to serve daily. What motivated your service?