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Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Seventy-five years ago this year, President Truman signed an executive order banning segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces. And nearly 60 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his immortal "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

Today, the United States has the strongest fighting force in history. Our diverse, formidable, 21st-century military shows how much progress America has made toward Dr. King's vision of full citizenship for all Americans. We are proud and thankful for every patriot in our extraordinary, all-volunteer force. Our ranks are comprised of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Guardians, and DoD civilians from all walks of life, representing every color, gender, ethnicity, and creed from across our great nation. 

These American warriors protect our country every hour of every day and defend U.S. interests around the globe. Today's U.S. military is simply the finest, most combat-capable fighting force that the world has ever known.

Dr. King's call to action still reminds us that the great American experiment of democracy, freedom, and equal rights requires us all to come together in a spirit of citizenship and service. Yet as a nation, we also know we still have much more to do to ensure equal rights, liberty, and justice for all. 

As Dr. King famously said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." As we commemorate this year's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I encourage all of us to reflect on how far we've come, but also on the important work that we have left to do.