“What are we doing for others?”
That was the theme of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ keynote address at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center’s annual event (belatedly) celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
What he didn’t do for the dozens of people in the center’s LVA Auditorium on Friday afternoon was present them with a mayoral-race stump speech.
After the center’s choir sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (and before they closed with “We Shall Overcome”), he did touch on — among other things — “the myth that Dr. King didn’t respect soldiers.”
He also spoke about the bravery of soldiers (both in the room and out), and how they protect a land that weathered both a Civil War and heated civil-rights movement.
“I can tell you that I’m not as brave as you are,” he said. “I have a 17-month-old grandson who will grow up in a country of boundless potential, not boxed in with limited possibilities, because of what Dr. King did, and because you fought to protect us.”
When the hour-long gathering ended, NinetyNine asked Williams to frame ongoing veterans issues like homelessness, access to social services and, among other things, mishandled claims through the lens of a mayoral candidate.
One of his state-senate staffers shared a copy of the “Resources for Veterans and their Families” guide, which includes contact numbers for service agencies and details of legislation he’s introduced to encourage employers to hire returning veterans.
He then said that, as mayor, he would seek to buttress efforts where needed, including those of the City Council Veterans Advisory Commission, which comprises five commissioners and executive director Scott C. Brown.
“We need more than just one [city entity] responsible for overseeing these issues,” Williams said. “When my father and grandfather came home [from serving in the military], they were cheered. We need to do more to let those returning know that they are valuable.”