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We really have come a long way since the days when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought to the forefront of the American dream the fact that all men are truly created equal.

Progress has been made, though, of course, progress is still needed.

We ran a front-page story this week about former Battalion Fire Chief Michael Turner, who will be honored in a retirement ceremony Jan. 30.

The fact that Turner reached the major milestone of retirement wasn’t the focal point of the story. The focal point was how Turner became the first paid black firefighter in the Covington fire department and how he broke through another barrier of that time period.

Just 37 years ago, in 1976, this racial barrier was broken. Now as new men – and women – join the fire department, they are just that, men and women.

We are glad we are heading to the time when we are not counting the firsts.

The time of great men and women who helped push this country forward is being honored now. Thanks to Turner and others who helped to pave the way, we can look forward to a day when a person of any color or gender is thought of only as a person who paid great service to our community, and not a representative of their color or gender.

We salute retired Battalion Chief Michael Turner. Your courage and dedication to serve our community will be remembered in the proudest of ways.