WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (July 15, 2013) -- Have you ever visited a place and thought about what life must have been like maybe 50 or 100 years ago? You may have thought about what people wore, what they ate, how they housed themselves, or even what they did to sustain their families.

To many at the Watervliet Arsenal, that reflection transcends decades and even generations each time they enter the fence line. After all, the arsenal celebrated 200 years of continuous support to the military, July 14.

As upstate New Yorkers from the Village of Troy sweated under the hot summer sun in 1813 laying the first bricks and mortar on what would become the Watervliet Arsenal, the young nation was at war. Soldiers, who stood guard as the first of 10 buildings was erected, were concerned that at any time the British would invade the area from the north or from the west.

As buildings were built and equipment moved in, men, women, and children quickly went to work. Despite the austere conditions of the young arsenal, the workforce worked day and night to get critical ammunition packed for Soldiers. When the nation's Capitol was burned, arsenal products were quickly shipped to help repel the British. And when Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated a British invasion in New Orleans, Jan. 8, 1815, the arsenal products were there that infamous day.

Since the Battle of New Orleans, arsenal products have support the nation's troops at every military conflict from the landing of Vera Cruz, to the Battle of Gettysburg; from San Juan Hill, to the Battle of the Marne and the Battle of the Bulge; to the frozen Korean tundra and the jungles of Vietnam, to Grenada and Panama; from Iraq to today, where its products are in Afghanistan.

Who would have thought back then that manufacturing operations manned by a small eclectic group of local citizens would continue 200 years later? But, here we are 200 years later and our nation remains at war. Although Soldiers no longer stand guard over the arsenal, security remains tight against threats that may come from anywhere in the world. Places that those in 1813 could not have imagined.

A lot has changed at the arsenal since 1813, except one thing -- there is a tremendous sense of pride. There is no doubt among the arsenal workforce that tens of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have safely returned home since 1813 due in some part to the high-quality products that the arsenal put into their hands.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WATERVLIET

The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vuh-leet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.

Today's Watervliet Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most-advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

Page last updated Mon July 15th, 2013 at 00:00