PASCO -- When Shirley Long was growing up in the South in the late 1960s, she remembers water fountains that were designated for "whites only" or for "colored only."
But on Monday at Columbia Basin College, Long, now Lockheed Martin's manager of application development and maintenance solutions, joined others in celebrating how Martin Luther King Jr. helped change such things.
They also noted that work still remains to create a truly color-blind society.
More than 150 people attended the 20th annual Bell-Ringing Ceremony at CBC to commemorate the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.
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The assembled crowd rang college-provided hand bells around the college's statue of King to kick off the ceremony. They then moved to the Byron Gjerde Center, where they were welcomed by members of the local Federation of Choirs, singing, clapping and swaying to gospel music. Miss Juneteenth, Cassi Davis, performed a modern dance.
In her speech, Long noted how King changed the world through his energy, passion and humanity, and his willingness to confront injustice.
Along with Rosa Parks, King was "one of the few people to stand up and say, 'No,' " she said.
She noted how his legacy changed the world, from the plethora of streets and buildings and national holiday that now bear his name to his "planting the seeds in our hearts to make this one nation under God with liberty and justice for all."
"Look at who sits in the White House today," she added.
Long challenged audience members to follow King's example and "make service a part of your lives."
Richland orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Zirkle, recipient of the 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award, also spoke and said people can continue King's work by emulating his actions through what he called "Dr. Martin Luther King moments."
Zirkle is the founder and president of the nonprofit Surgical Implant Generation Network, or SIGN, that trains surgeons and provides equipment that has helped treat 75,000 people with bone fractures in 47 developing countries.
The SIGN implants allow surgeons to repair broken arms and legs under even the most primitive medical conditions.
Zirkle said King worked for equality and unity, and said his nonprofit does similar work by advocating for equality of patient care throughout the world.
He said he had his first "Dr. Martin Luther King moment" as a commanding officer working in Vietnam during the war.
In that position, he was directed to provide emergency care to Vietnamese civilians, then send them to local hospitals. But because he felt those hospitals provided inferior care, he treated those patients at the hospital he worked for instead.
"I carried that outrage about differences in care throughout my life," Zirkle recalled.
His second King moment came when he was working as a civilian surgeon at an Afghani hospital. He recalled Pashtun tribesmen who hung out near the hospital doors who seemed less than enthusiastic about his presence.
Then one day he performed surgery on an Afghan man who had fallen 60 feet down a well and been told he would need to have both legs amputated.
Instead Zirkle operated on him. Afterward, the tribesmen's stares became less frequent, and one day he saw several smiling at him.
"He regarded me as a human being," Zirkle concluded. "That's the start to human peace."
He encouraged audience members to combine two of King's tenets -- that action defines a person's greatness and "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -- to help bring about world peace.
"It will rise like an irresistible tide and allow peace to rise in the world," Zirkle said.
* Kathy Korengel: 509-582-1541; email@example.com