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Keyport lights candles on King’s birthday cake

KEYPORT — Had his life not been cut short in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. would celebrate his 75th birthday Thursday.

But that’s not to say that there will not be celebrations taking place that day.

For the 22nd year in a row, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport will host a service honoring King’s legacy at 8 a.m. Jan. 15 at the Keyport Naval Undersea Museum. This annual event is sponsored by the Keyport Workforce Diversity Council.

The event, which usually draws about 100 people each year, is expected to draw a crowd closer to 200 this year. Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport Public Affairs Officer Diane Jennings said the service grows each year and that this year may be more heavily attended because of the caliber of the speakers.

Keynote for the event will be John H. James Jr., executive director for Undersea Warfare Submarine Directorate at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C. James is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Organization of Blacks in Government and takes part in minority recruiting within the civilian work force.

Rear Admiral Melvin G. Williams Jr., Commander of Subase Bangor’s Submarine Group Nine will also make remarks.

“The emphasis is on (King’s) achievements on behalf of all people. All of our speakers talk about the progress that’s been made in what (King) stood for,” Jennings explained of the event’s theme.

The ceremony will also feature music by the Navy Band Northwest and a reading of “In Memory of Our Fallen Heroes,” a dramatic piece accentuated by the presence of an ornate table.

“It’s meant to symbolize the frailty of one warrior alone and recognize the sacrifice of military personnel,” Jennings said of the moving presentation.

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