02-05-2014 01:09 PM
By Ryan McQueen,
USAA Affinity Client Manager
Monday, January 20, 2014, was one of my favorite days to be a USAA employee.
I struggled to get out of bed after a long, eventful weekend, but I knew Monday's events would be well worth it. It was the day of the Martin Luther King Jr. March, one of the reasons I've grown to like San Antonio after moving here from Austin.
After a brief commute (thanks to empty roads from the MLK holiday), I arrived at the USAA home office and entered Eagle Hall. The place was buzzing with preparations for the march, and the atmosphere was almost festive. Participating employees received long-sleeve blue shirts emblazoned with the “Honoring the Dream” slogan, water bottles and backpacks. In USAA fashion, breakfast tacos and coffee were provided to help us keep up our energy during the march.
We boarded buses for a 20-minute ride to the march site. It was great to see people of different ethnicities from all parts of town coming together for a positive, cheerful celebration of love and peace. Like our nation, the crowd at the march was a melting pot of ideas and beliefs. And here, everyone was equally respected.
As we made our way to the starting location, I was proud to hear several folks saying, “Here comes USAA!” People who attend the march yearly expect USAA employees to show up in blue shirts, our uniform since our first year participating. After seeing our large group, people often asked how many employees we had attending. It made me proud to be marching with about 600 fellow USAA employees and their families. And it made me smile when people responded, “Well, who is left working?”
The MLK march is an opportunity to remember the sacrifices that others made before me. It's also a chance to support the idea that everyone should be treated fairly and equally, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political affiliations.
One of the most magical moments was when about 20 USAA members approached to say how much they love the organization and ask if they could march with us. It was good to know our commitment to service reached those members and made them feel like they were with family and friends during the march.
The march was roughly 2.5 miles and ended at a park filled with lively sights, sounds and smells: musicians, barbecuing, food stands and laughter. It was bittersweet to reach the end of the march; the park looked like a great place to interact with people supporting this good cause.
Some USAA employees stayed behind to meet family and friends and make a day of the event, something I plan to consider next year. But the rest of us boarded buses to return to work. As I received my box lunch and ate with co-workers, I couldn't help but be thankful for everything my employer and teammates stand for.
Not many places encourage more than 600 employees to take paid time off to attend a march. I'm thankful to the Diversity Team and to many others who helped make the march special.
I'm so happy to be a part of our MLK Day tradition and part of USAA. I'm excited to see how many employees we can bring to the march next year.
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