Police Chief Moose Speaks at DoD's Annual King Breakfast
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2003 Charles A. Moose told the audience at DoD's 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in the Pentagon that he probably wouldn't be the police chief of Montgomery County, Md., if not for King's work and sacrifices.
He said King's actions made many things in his life possible. "I was able to attend an integrated high school," said Moose, who also serves as a major in the District of Columbia Air National Guard as commander of the 113th Security Forces Squadron.
"I didn't have to stay in a segregated environment because of the risks taken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," he continued. "I was able to go to an integrated University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and become a police officer.
And his police service was not the kind relegated to some of his predecessors when "'colored people' could only provide police services in the 'colored community,'" said the now internationally known police chief. "I was able to become a police officer and enforce the laws for all the people."
The national and international limelights fell on Moose as he led a successful, high- profile sniper manhunt in the Washington area last October. Two suspects were arrested and charged with killing 10 persons.
Moose praised DoD officials for taking time for a special tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Asking breakfast attendees to think about what King would be like today, he said the assassinated civil rights leader would be 74 now, but probably would still be active.
He drew laughter from the audience when he said, "Dr. King would probably be the leading e-mail user in the nation. He'd be all over the Internet, because he focused on peace in the entire world. I can only imagine what his cell phone bill would look like, because he was always active. I think he would actually carry an airline himself because his travel schedule would be phenomenal.
"The world we live in today is in such disarray, that his talents, skills and thoughts would be welcomed all over the world," Moose said. King was influential in the Kennedy years, he noted, surmising the reverend would probably be even more influential in today's White House.
"His demand for peace, equality and justice" would be quite a moving force, the police chief said.
"So when we celebrate, we also should be humble when we think about what we actually lost when he was taken from us," Moose said. "We're indeed a great nation, but I wonder how great it would be if he was still around, still giving us the directions we need."
He expressed concern about young people seeing King as a fading role model as years pass. Then he asked, "Who would be the role model for our young people in the future?
"Whereas we have a national holiday , Dr. King is not alive, not in front of our young people each and every day as he was in front of us," Moose noted. "So I worry about that, and that's a challenge."
He told the audience about a poster featuring an African American, a white male, a young lady with Asian features and a young woman with Latino features. "The poster says, what do you see - white, black, Asian and Latino?" Moose said. "Or do you see four children."
"The reality is, a lot of people in our country see a black, white, Asian and Latino," he noted. "We still haven't reached the point where people will look at that poster and see four children. So we have a lot of work to do."
Race and equality are still issues in America, Moose said. "You don't have to go very far from here to visit some of the neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Baltimore city or neighborhoods in any city in America," he remarked.
As to who America's civil rights leaders are in 2003, Moose said, "I don't know, and I'm not sure any of you know. If you're as confused as I am, I'd like to move us to this challenge: If we don't know the answers, then let it be us!
"Let us honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by striving to live and implement his values and fill the void because he was taken away from us," he said. "Let us do it every day, not just when we celebrate his birthday, and certainly not just during the month of February when we celebrate Black History Month."
In preparation to serve as keynote speaker, Moose said he reread King's "I Have a Dream" speech. "That's when it became painfully clear that we still have so many unkept promises, so much work yet to be done," he said.
"I'm an optimist and I feel good about the progress that has been made by this country, but when I read the 'I Have a Dream' speech, I also know that the thoughts and concerns of Dr. King remain relevant," he said. "Our young people are still not judged by their content; we're still judging people by their race."
Moose noted his life is hectic and busy, as it is for everyone, and there's always the possibility "that I, too, might lose focus of what I need to do with my life."
"Having me here today has helped me and inspired me to continue to try to do the right things," he said. "You've helped me refocus my thoughts on what I should do and how I should live so that I, too, can join you in honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
In his opening remarks, breakfast host Raymond F. DuBois, the Pentagon's director of administration and management and director of the Washington Headquarters Services there, said his history teacher passed out King's April 1963 letter from the Birmingham jail.
"It's several thousand words, extremely articulate, very emotional, and I recommend it to you students and everyone in this room," he said. "It's called 'Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail.'" The letter is on the Web at http://almaz.com/nobel/peace/MLK- jail.html.
DuBois said King tested the nation's constitutional ideals in many ways. But, he noted, in the landscape of American institutions, the military has played a significant part in terms of desegregation.
"We lead lives today as beneficiaries of what Dr. King did," he said. "Our families, civilian and military, are dealing with a great difficult time. But the difficult times in this country, whether it was the Revolutionary War, Civil War or my war in Vietnam, we fought - black and white, side by side."