Army celebrates 235 years of 'liberating millions'
June 14, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 14, 2010) -- The Army celebrated its 235th birthday Monday in the center courtyard of the Pentagon, with a cake-cutting and re-enlistment ceremony.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. quoted the words that the first commander of the Continental Army, George Washington, spoke at the start of the Revolutionary War: "The fate of unborn millions now depends, under God, on the courage and conduct of this Army."
Casey said history has proven Washington's words true.
"Over the course of our history this Army and the armed forces of the United States have liberated millions of people from tyranny and oppression, 50 million in this decade alone," Casey said.
About 20 Soldiers re-enlisted during the ceremony. Staff Sgt. Kevin Biglin said he served for 12 years and this is his last re-enlistment. "What better way to do it than at the Pentagon for my last one."
Sgt. Michael Cross attended the celebration for the first time and described it as "inspirational," and "educational."
A lot of planning went into the birthday cake said Staff Sgt. Motavia Alston, a chef in the Secretary of Defense Mess. He said planning for the cake started in mid-May before beginning to make the cake Memorial Day weekend. It was finished last Sunday.
Casey said that the Army's longevity has been largely due to its ordinary Soldiers.
"At its core, our history is the history of our people - ordinary Americans, ordinary men and women, who have done extraordinary things over time for this great country. Our history is a story of personal courage, selfless service and sacrifice by more than 30 million men and women who have served this country and served this Army over the last 235 years.
"It's a story of generation after generation of Americans who are committed to the values and ideals that make this country great. Today, yet another generation of Americans continues to serve this country around the world."
Secretary of the Army John McHugh followed Casey at the microphone, saying the occasion is an opportunity both to remember a proud history and move forward with confidence.
"As we think about the absolutely essential role this grand United States Army has played throughout our history, before this nation even was a nation, we should be humbled by the generations of Soldiers who have stood at our nation's call in time of both war and peace," McHugh said. "And no matter what the challenges to come, no matter where the call may be heard, we will remain America's army, the strength of the nation."
Guest speaker Secretary of Defense Robert Gates complimented the versatility demanded of modern Soldiers, saying their dedication to the Army motto, "This we'll defend," has guaranteed that America's freedom and security will continue.
"I'm awed by their ability to adapt and succeed in a mission that at various stages has called upon them to be scholars, teachers, policemen, farmers, bankers, engineers, social workers, and, of course, warriors - often all at the same time," Gates said. "I am perpetually thankful for their willingness to serve and have the greatest faith in their ability to face the difficult and dangerous missions that lie ahead. These patriots have always been the strength of the nation."
Gates noted that one of the best parts of his job is talking with Soldiers and their families. "There is always time on my schedule to listen to what these amazing Americans have to say even if sometimes it may be tough to hear."
McHugh said the Pentagon celebration was one of many to take place this week throughout the United States. He said there would be celebrations and cake along with "reverence, remembrance, and gratitude."
"They should serve as markers telling us where we've been," he said of the observances, "and guiding us on tomorrow's path."