Celebrating our Army’s 236th birthday
June 9, 2011
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem
On the morning of April 19, 1775, a handful of militia engaged a force from the British army on Lexington Common in Massachusetts.
A little less than two months later, on June 14, the Continental Congress adopted the American Continental Army and gave birth to the worldly revered force we serve today.
Tuesday will mark 236 years of service to our nation. A nation we who wear the uniform are committed to defend “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Sometimes that domestic enemy is not one that bears arms, but brings destruction through man-made or natural disasters. The Army has proudly served to support disaster relief efforts in the flooded regions of the Mississippi Valley and the wild fires in the western United States. Whether the destroyer was hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes, and regardless of whether the ravaged area was local, state or federal, we have met the challenge with discipline and training.
That same unified force has been used in combat, counter insurgency, counter terrorism and security assistance throughout our history both in defense of our own country and in support of our allies outside or borders. Throughout our long and storied history, the Family has been an important part of the Army’s readiness.
In the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Families often joined their Soldiers in the field performing housekeeping and medical assistance. Today, the Family support is not as direct, but ever more important to the morale and welfare of the troops deployed. Loved ones maintain the home and communicate with their war fighter with letters, e-mails and care packages from home. Your importance cannot be overstated.
Over the past 236 years, Civilians have become more of an intricate part of Soldier support. Not only do you perform the day-to-day administration here at home, but many of you are called to support at forward operating bases. The Army’s birthday is a celebration of your efforts as well.
The Army shares its special day with our star spangled banner. On June 14, 1977, two years after the Army stood up, the Continental Congress proposed replacing the British Union Jack a national flag containing 13 stars representing the 13 new states. There was no special day for Old Glory, as America’s birthday was celebrated July 4. However, on our flag’s 108th anniversary, B.J. Cigrand, a Fredonia, Wisconsin, schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Public School District 6 to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday.”
This first “official” Flag Day was in 1885, a little less than a month after Fort McPherson was born. Now, 126 years after the first celebration of our national flag and the official opening of our installation’s gates, we are preparing to retire the garrison’s colors.
As with so many events this year, we approach our June 17 celebration of Army’s 236th birthday with a both joy and sadness. I invite you all to join me in all the festivities, beginning with a 5K run/walk. Late registration will be from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., on the Cobb Street side of Post Headquarters (Bldg. 65), we will hold our inactivation ceremony and encase our garrison flag for the last time. Beginning at noon, we will hold our Army Birthday Cake cutting ceremony at Jacobs Park, where we will also enjoy a good, old fashioned, cook out.
I believe the best way to approach our inactivation is with the bitter lined with some sweet. It’s sad to see Fort McPherson close after being a part of both Atlanta’s and the Army’s history for so long. However, we can take pride in the fact that many of us will continue our selfless service elsewhere or those we have trained will take up the banner and continue to move it forward.
The Army will indeed go rolling along.
Happy Army Birthday to all of you.