Big Red One celebrates Army, division birthdays
June 15, 2010
- 1st Inf. Div. celebrates birthday
By Jordan Chapman
1st Infantry Division Public Affairs
Two words were on the minds of Soldiers and Veterans attending the Army's 235th and the 1st Infantry Division's 93rd birthday celebration - pride and tradition.
Lined with honor units standing at attention with unit flags and the colors of the United States of America rippling in the wind, the 1st Inf. Div. Parade Field was filled with history June 15, the day also marking the beginning of Victory Week, 2010.
Not only were attendees able to hear Army and Big Red One history, they were able to see an illustration of the past as period vehicles dropped off Soldiers dressed in previous war-time uniforms from the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"This patch on my left shoulder, the Big Red One, for 93 years the Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division forged a brotherhood of peace in a time of war that can never be broken," Brig. Gen. David Petersen, 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, said, commenting on period-dressed Soldiers standing at ease in front of those honoring them.
By showing such respect to the uniform each Soldier wore, attendees also showed much reverence for any Soldier who wore the uniform during the Army's past 235 years.
"Whether it's 93 years or 235 years, American Soldiers have been willing to sacrifice for this nation for a long time," Petersen said, adding that like some other things, the United States Army gets better with age.
"Were it not for the courage and tenacity of our Soldiers, our country would not be what it is today. Against all odds and through all the hardships they have had to face they have followed through with a simple vow, 'We will be free'," Petersen continued.
Retired Col. Kenneth Burgoon, former Big Red One Soldier and World War II veteran, could appreciate the words spoken at the celebration.
"The tradition that is here carries on year to year and they never forget it. It's something they (the Soldiers) learn to live by," Burgoon noted, proud of his division and certain that every veteran of the 1st Inf. Div. still lives by their previous unit's tradition.
One other tradition never forgotten was the cutting of cake. With the help of the youngest Soldier currently stationed at Fort Riley, Pfc. Tanner Holder, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Petersen sliced the Army's cake.
"It was an honor, it feels really good," Holder said.
"The Army's story is America's story," Petersen said. "Every man and woman wearing a uniform today is pinning another chapter in that glorious history ... and now today that burden, that duty, indeed that privilege falls upon the Soldiers of today."