By David Riera, platoon member

I can remember being in school when Columbus Day was still on the calendar and MLK Day was celebrated as part of Black History Week. Now in 2019, almost 22 years after my last Black history report in U.S. History class, and 12 years since I received my honorable discharge, I reflect back and note that a day or a week was not justice at all.

As we completed our 2019 MLK project at Brownsville Middle School in Miami, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many other civic and community groups come to lend their strength, ‘cause three hours of raking dead leaves is no laughing matter, but at the end we all had smiles on our faces.  

The 2019 MLK project with Brownsville Middle School in Miami, Florida

But was it enough? In my life time I have seen Black history go from a day to a week to now a month of observance… but what about the other 11 months of the year?

I think about this especially in light of my combat experience. We typically bust the door down, get rid of the bad guys, and stay around to help put the door back on the hinges. But I continuously regress to ask; was it (or is it) enough?

Like many of my fellow civic-minded veterans, I feel a deep sense of duty to my country. This year, between the Miami and Broward Platoons as well as with my school’s organizations (Beekeeping and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Science in south Florida), we have been able to plan and continue to execute service learning projects through the month of February.

Dr. King would say that true peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.

I have — and probably will — continue to put myself in “tense situations” to hopefully be a facilitator — a pillar to support justice for those I have served and have yet to serve. But most importantly, I want to continue to chase this idea of true peace.

In the meantime I will Continue the Mission and shake off these blues, because one day it will be enough. One day we will have the presence of justice. That day probably won’t happen tomorrow, and it certainly won’t happen on its own! I know more passionate volunteers like us are out there… making it happen…

All of us, together, under The Mission Continues banner continue to serve Dr. King’s vision not just in January, not just in February, but every month of the year. Charlie Mike!