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Sixth-Grader Follows Sister's Footsteps, Wins MLK Essay Contest

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2003 – A year ago, Ronada D. Hewitt, 11, listened to her sister Samantha read her award-winning essay during DoD's Martin Luther King Jr. Pentagon breakfast. This year, Ronada stood at the podium reading her own award-winning essay.

"I feel good following after my sister," said Hewitt, a sixth-grader at Washington's John Tyler Elementary School. "Both of us are the same. We think the same most of the time, but not all of the time."

Hewitt said she wasn't nervous reading her essay before the large breakfast crowd because she's in a choir and is used to appearing in front of many people.

"It was great meeting Chief Moose; my sister didn't believe I was going to meet him," the youngster said. Hewitt chatted with Montgomery County (Md.) Chief of Police Charles A. Moose, keynote breakfast speaker. He became internationally famous leading the high- profile manhunt for the snipers who killed 10 people and wounded three in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia last October.

Asked what inspired her to write the essay about King, Hewitt said, "Martin Luther King Jr. was a great person. If he hadn't been here, none of this would have happened and things would be totally different."

Each year, DoD sponsors an essay contest for the students at John Tyler, its adopted school. The essays are written on the national theme for the King observance, according to Raymond F. DuBois, DoD's director of administration and management and director of DoD's Washington Headquarters Service. This year's theme was "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off."

DuBois noted that DoD provides services at Tyler, including weekly tutors, mentors, career day counseling, special holiday gifts program and Thanksgiving meals for students and their families in need. DoD's efforts are designed to support and enrich the students' lives.

Ronada D. Hewitts Essay

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great leader. He lived only a short time on earth but he is still remembered today for his courage to step out to change America.

As a boy growing up in the segregated south, Martin Luther King Jr. knew that it was wrong to judge people by the color of their skin.

When Martin Luther King Jr. was called to Montgomery, Ala., to pastor a church, he knew the time had come for him to take a stand against the injustices black people suffered. So when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, Martin Luther King Jr. became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and organized a bus boycott. After more than a year of marches, demonstrations, car-pooling and walking, the boycott ended with black people sitting wherever they wanted to on the bus.

There were many other injustices that black people had to endure like cross burnings by the KKK, segregation in restaurants, schools and department stores. Martin Luther King Jr. became the spokesman for black Americans across the country as he spoke out against all social injustices. People listened to him as he taught the way to respond to evil and hatred was with love and non-violence.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about his dream for America in that historic speech from the Lincoln Memorial. He believed that all races were created equal and should be treated the same regardless of what part of the country you lived in. He believed that all races must join hands and work together in peace and unity.

I did not know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but I have read much about him and his work. The King holiday is not just another day off from school or work. It is a day where we can show our respect for a man who gave so much to make our lives better today. We can do this by helping someone who needs a helping hand. We can do something special in our community to make it a better place to live. After all, one of Dr. Kings favorite songs was If I Can Help Somebody.

On this King holiday 2003, let us remember the man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many, many good things he did to make our lives better. Let us celebrate his achievements for all Americans. Let us act by doing something to keep his dream alive.

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Related Sites:
DoD Tribute to Martin Luther King

Related Articles:
Police Chief Moose Speaks at DoD's Annual King Breakfast


Click photo for screen-resolution imageMontgomery County (Md.) Chief of Police Charles A. Moose, seated left, claps as Raymond F. DuBois presents sixth-grader Ronada D. Hewitt a DoD plaque, certificate and $100 savings bond. Hewitt wrote the award-winning Martin Luther King Jr. essay at Washington's John Tyler Elementary School. DuBois is DoD's director of administration and management and director of DoD's Washington Headquarters Service. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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