Fort Sam celebrates Army's Birthday, Flag Day
June 18, 2010
By Lori Newman
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- As the nation celebrated the 235th Army Birthday and Flag Day June 14 so did Soldiers and Family members of the Fort Sam Houston community.
A celebration was held at the post flagpole to reflect on the Army's history and honor our nation's flag.
Col. Mary E. Garr, 502nd Mission Support Group/Garrison commander, addressed the crowd explaining the history of the Army and the origin of the American flag.
On June 14, 1775, six companies of expert rifleman were raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland and two in Virginia, she said.
Each company consisted of a captain, three lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, a drummer or trumpeter and 68 privates. Each company, when complete, marched to join the Army near Boston where they were employed as light infantry under the command of the chief officer in that Army, she explained. "Thus, began the United States Army."
On June 14, 1777, our nation's flag was born, "a symbol of freedom, democracy and hope," the colonel said. "Our Army carries and wears that symbol wherever we go."
"Since 1775 our Army has risen to meet new challenges, displaying strength of character and resolve unmatched by any of our adversaries. Our Army has been there when needed and it continues to be there; not just for Americans, but for people and nations all over the world," Garr said.
"We are part of our nation's history, and together with our sister services, we are defenders of America's freedom; for 235 years - always Army strong!" Garr concluded.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was San Antonio Councilman (District 10) John Clamp.
Clamp expressed his pride in the fact that San Antonio has been part of the Army's history for 165 years.
"The Army has been a continuing symbol for us in San Antonio of patriotism, sacrifice and the enduring spirit of America's and San Antonio's military men and women," he said.
He touched on the history of Fort Sam Houston and its impact on San Antonio today.
"Our shared history is a foundation that serves to continue our legacy as a community supporting military missions vital to our nation's defense and training military men and women who carry American's colors - red, white and blue with them around the world," Clamp said.
"We need to be sensitive and remain vigilant about protecting the capabilities of Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis," he said.
Clamp said he and his staff enjoy coming to the newcomer's extravaganza each month. "We talk to the Soldiers and welcome them to San Antonio."
The ceremony also included Soldiers dressed in period uniforms presenting battle streamers to be attached to the Army flag. Sgt. Maj. Shawn Barnes, U.S. Army Garrison, attached the 178 streamers, which represent 235 years of the Army's service.
Following the ceremony, a cake donated by Nadler's Bakery was served.
To coincide with the Army Birthday, a wreath-laying ceremony was held in honor of retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Leon L. Van Autreve at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery June 11.
Van Autreve, the fourth sergeant major of the Army, passed away in 2002. Each year his wife Rita, Family members and the military community honor Van Autreve by placing a wreath at his gravesite.
"Today is a special day not only to recognize a fallen hero but to recognize a great American Family, the Van Autreve Family," said guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. James Diggs, Army Medical Department Center & School.
Diggs said as a young sergeant first class he spoke with Van Autreve. "I was so inspired," he said.