WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 15, 2009) - The Army kicked off the celebrations of its 234th birthday at the Pentagon June 12 with senior leaders praising the noncommissioned officer corps, a cake-cutting, Program Executive Office Soldier demonstration and a display of antique Army vehicles which are participating in the re-enactment of the 1919 Army transcontinental convoy from Washington to San Francisco.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. broke open the festivities saying that the Army had been a force for peace and justice in the world since the beginning of the republic and that the Army would always be serving in that role because the American Soldier brings security, stability and hope to troubled people everywhere.

"As we reflect over the course of the week on the sacrifices of our predecessors, and we celebrate their service and honor the brave men and women who are serving today as well as our families and Army civilians, it's important for all of us to remember that our history is indeed a very proud one," he said.

"At its heart, the Army story is of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things for this great country," Casey said. "It's the story of personal courage, selfless service and sacrifice by the more than 30 million men and women who have served in the Army of the United States selflessly over the last 234 years.

"As we celebrate this birthday, we also commemorate 2009 as the year of the noncommissioned officer," Casey added. "Through these great noncommissioned officers we honor the service of our predecessors and strive to continue their proud legacy as members of the greatest armed forces on earth

Secretary of the Army Pete Geren followed Casey at the lectern remarking that it was important to stop and think how different the history of the U.S. would be if it weren't for the Army and how different the history of the world would be.

"It's important to reflect on the tie that binds these Soldiers with the Soldiers in Desert Storm and those who fought in Vietnam, those who fought in Korea, those who stormed the beach at Normandy all the way back to those Soldiers who stood at Lexington and Concord.," he said.

Guest speaker Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III said the focus for this year's birthday was on the contributions of the noncommissioned officers. He said NCOs were the backbone of the Army and responsible for the safety, training, discipline and well-being of each servicemember in their charge.

"They know the ground truth of what is going on with our men and women in uniform - they're the foundation of the force; they're the critical element of what makes this Army great," he said. "As we celebrate the Army's 234th birthday, we're really celebrating you; our volunteer Soldiers, our noncommissioned officers, our Army families. Without you, we would not be able to accomplish the task before us."

Following Lynn's remarks, Sgt. Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston inducted Soldiers from all Army components stationed in the metro Washington area into the ranks of the NCO corps by having them recite the NCO oath.

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