GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Grafenwoehr Soldiers, families and community members gathered June 11 at the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Dining Facility to celebrate the Army's 234th birthday and commemorate the courageous acts of patriotism that enabled the United States Army to be born.

"It's important to celebrate the Army's birthday because, like all birthdays, it's a time of remembrance," said Capt. Ronald Underwood, USAG Grafenwoehr Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. "It's especially important for these children to know what our ancestors have done, not just then, but all the major wars and battles that we've fought.

"Maybe one day it will inspire a future George Washington. These great men and women fought for what they believed in at great risk to themselves, to buy our freedom with their blood. It's one of those things that need to be retold and understood."

Underwood read "Sam, the Army Dog" to a crowd of more than 200 children, parents and staff at Netzaberg Youth Center.

The book was written specifically for this occasion and every child present was given a copy to take home.

Other activities at the Youth Center included crafts and a puppet show. Each child made a party hat and birthday card
for the celebration.

Earlier in the day, Grafenwoehr Dining Facility employees worked tirelessly to ensure that the Army birthday celebration was a success.

Amid the hustle and bustle of party preparations, Spc. James Dunn carefully put the finishing touches onto the birthday cake he has spent most of the week decorating.

"I'm always excited and always nervous to be asked to do a job like this," Dunn, who has been decorating cakes for the Army since 2002, said.

"It's a lot of work, a lot of detail. I did all the decorating myself. It's a lot of time and work to do a cake this size. It took me a total of three days to do it."

Festivities at the Army birthday celebration included lunch with speeches by Lt. Col. Sean Driscoll, USAG Grafenwoehr provost marshall, and Command Sgt. Maj. Darius Zagara, Joint Multinational Training Command command sergeant major.

A spirited rendition of "The Army Goes Rolling Along" followed with a cake-cutting ceremony where USAG Grafenwoehr Command Sgt. Maj. William Berrios, aided by Chaplain (Col.) Glen Woodson, 172nd Infantry Brigade, representing the oldest Soldier in the Army, and Pfc. Matthew Hedgecoth, 172nd Inf. Bde., representing the youngest, used sabers to cut the first piece.

As 2009 was named the Year of the Noncommissioned Office, this particular birthday has a special significance for Berrios.

"Non-commissioned officers are the backbone of this Army. NCOs are crucial to the success of our Army and have played an important role since the Revolutionary War. NCOs set the standard, and they enforce the standard of what the Army should be," he said.

At Army posts around the world, Soldiers and their families took time out to celebrate the Army's birthday, with the festivities coming to an end at the Army Birthday Ball held annually in Washington, D.C.

Since its birth on June 14, 1775, the U.S. Army has played a key role in the American military, taking part in every military conflict since the Revolutionary War.

More photos from the June 11 Army birthday celebration at Grafenwoehr can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/usaggrafenwoehr.

Page last updated Mon June 15th, 2009 at 05:40