June 14 we will celebrate the Army's 234th birthday. This celebration gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by members of the greatest landfighting force in history and the commitment to service demonstrated by those who wear the uniform today.

Since 1775, Soldiers have proudly served at places named Bunker Hill, Normandy, Fallujah, and Helmand Province - and many others. They have put their boots on the ground at locations around the world to guarantee freedom, preserve peace and defend democracy.

Soldiers have made our Army part of the world's most respected armed forces and the pre-eminent land power on Earth, but it is important to remember that Soldiers' commitment to service is enabled by the Family members and friends who willingly sacrifice their own individual freedoms to enable their Soldier family members to serve. Our nation's strength is found in Americans' willingness to sacrifice today to build a better future for tomorrow. The American Soldier, and Soldier family members, exemplify this commitment.

Many people think of a "service commitment" as a period of obligated military service, or the terms of an enlistment contract or mobilization. Since Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. citizens have come to realize that commitment is measured by more than just the time one serves.

While Soldiers and their families have never taken service commitment lightly, the sustained effort required to fight two wars and maintain our nation's commitments throughout the world has exacted a different cost on today's military families as it did on generations of the past. This commitment may mean moving every few years, enrolling in new schools, children going to bed at night without their mom or dad, parents missing football or baseball games, dance recital, or bedtime prayers; it may also mean recognizing that a loved one may not come home.

Those who serve in the Reserve Components leave their civilian jobs, in addition to their families and friends, to serve far from home. Today's Soldiers demonstrate their commitment to service by voluntarily spending time away from their friends and family to support the nation's missions overseas and by aspiring to excel to the full extent of their abilities.

Today's Soldiers serve as positive role models and community leaders, and their disregard for personal safety, comforts and preferences to achieve organizational goals is a daily example of service commitment.

The Army leadership has designated 2009 as the Year of the NCO, recognizing contributions made by NCOs past and present. The Army's birthday is a great opportunity to recognize the NCO Corps' contributions and to pay tribute to the indispensable roles NCOs play in every aspect of Army life.

Since 1775, the NCO Corps has distinguished itself through leadership, professionalism, commitment, courage and dedication. It is comprised of trained, adaptable, self-sacrificing professionals who have earned the admiration of both the officer and enlisted ranks. From the time a Soldier enters the Army until the time he or she leaves this profession, the NCO is there every step of the way to guide Soldiers and help them navigate any situation.

On this 234th birthday, the American Soldier is a walking example of commitment to service. We make the necessary sacrifices to ensure America fulfills its role in shaping the world's view of democracy and enforcing the freedoms to which all individuals are entitled. We serve voluntarily. We serve proudly. We want to make tomorrow a better place than it is today. We are American Soldiers.

Happy birthday, United States Army, and thank you, NCO Corps, for continuing to lead the way!

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16