To the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard:
On Monday, our Nation commemorates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a champion of civil rights and an icon of American history. Today, a monument to Dr. King stands next to the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, but over the course of his life he was harassed, assaulted, imprisoned,
and ultimately assassinated.
Four days before he was killed, Dr. King gave a speech at the National Cathedral. He told the assembled crowd, "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." We believe in Dr. King's words, and know bending that arc takes work. Our most-cherished values and our proudest achievements - civil rights, democracy, our military, and diplomatic credibility - are not automatic and they are not self-executing. They require strength, courage, and cooperation. They demand we do the right thing.
More than 50 years after Dr. King's death, our Nation continues to grapple with issues about race, justice, and inequality. The moral arc of the universe still needs shaping - and all of us must play a role. Every Soldier and Airman in our National Guard deserves to be valued for their contributions, treated with dignity and respect, and given the opportunity to succeed at every level. When we perpetuate or excuse bias, harassment, and exclusion in our ranks, we damage the very foundation of our organization. When we encounter discrimination and intolerance, it's up to each of us to say "That's not right, and I won't stand for it.
Diversity, equality, and inclusion are not buzzwords; they are principles of our democracy. They are the values for which Dr. King lived and died. They are the foundation of our Nation's motto, E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One. Together - and only together - can we fulfill our Nation's greatest potential. Our future demands nothing less.
Daniel R. Hokanson
General, U.S. Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau
Tony L. Whitehead
Senior Enlisted Advisor, NGB