• Fife & Drum Corps
The U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps performs for visitors at the Mount Vernon home of Gen. George Washington, the country's first commander in chief. Secretary of the Army John McHugh kicked off the Army's 237th birthday week celebrations May 11 by laying a wreath at Washington's tomb and pinning Purple Hearts on three Soldiers.

    Army Fife & Drum Corps Perform at Mt. Vernon

    Fife & Drum Corps The U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps performs for visitors at the Mount Vernon home of Gen. George Washington, the country's first commander in chief. Secretary of the Army John McHugh kicked off the Army's 237th birthday week...

  • Secretary of the Army John McHugh and a member of the Honor Guard place a wreath in the tomb of Gen. George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, May 11, the kickoff of the 237th birthday of the Army. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Regent Ann Bookout look on.

    Placing Wreath in Washington Tomb

    Secretary of the Army John McHugh and a member of the Honor Guard place a wreath in the tomb of Gen. George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, May 11, the kickoff of the 237th birthday of the Army. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and...

  • A wreath commemorating the Army's 237th birthday was left by Secretary of the Army John McHugh at the tomb of the Army's first leader and commander in chief Gen. George Washington at Mount Vernon on June 11.

    Wreath in Washington Tomb

    A wreath commemorating the Army's 237th birthday was left by Secretary of the Army John McHugh at the tomb of the Army's first leader and commander in chief Gen. George Washington at Mount Vernon on June 11.

  • Sgt. Darren Downing receives the Purple Heart from Army Secretary John McHugh at Mount Vernon, home of the Army's first leader and the country's first commander in chief Gen. George Washington. The secretary kicked off the Army's 237th birthday week celebration by laying a wreath at Washington's tomb and pinning Purple Hearts on three Soldiers May 11.

    Purple Heart Award

    Sgt. Darren Downing receives the Purple Heart from Army Secretary John McHugh at Mount Vernon, home of the Army's first leader and the country's first commander in chief Gen. George Washington. The secretary kicked off the Army's 237th birthday week...

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 12, 2012) -- The Army's top civilian and its top enlisted Soldier kicked off Army birthday week by visiting Mount Vernon, in northern Virginia, and placing a wreath at the tomb of Gen. George Washington and wife Martha, June 11.

Visitors gathered around while the wreath was placed inside the tomb and Taps was sounded.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Regent Ann Bookout then moved to the tomb grove to give remarks followed by the secretary's presentation of three Purple Hearts.

Bookout opened the Purple Heart ceremony saying there was no more appropriate place to begin the celebration of the Army's birthday than at the home of its first commander in chief.

"Not only was George Washington first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was also the first military official to recognize Soldiers who served and sacrificed with what we now call the Purple Heart," she said. "Today, we are honored to welcome here in this sacred place an esteemed group of men and women who share Washington's love of country and commitment to service."

The Purple Heart is awarded to U.S. servicemembers wounded or killed by an enemy of the United States.

Although the Badge of Military Merit that Washington established was discontinued after the American Revolution, it was reintroduced as the Purple Heart on Feb. 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington's birthday, by then Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

"We've been an Army at war for more than 10 years now, and our Soldiers have done an amazing job ... their families have done an amazing job, and without the support of the American people we would not be as successful as we have been on the battlefield," said Chandler. "I can't think of a better way to kick off our Army's 237th birthday week than to recognize three of our finest for their actions in supporting and defending our country."

Before pinning Purple Hearts on Pfc. Eddi Munoz, Spc. Michael Maynard and Sgt. Darren Downing, McHugh took the stage to thank the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association for their hospitality and support during the opening of Army birthday week.

"It's a fitting way to commemorate the Army and the men and women of the United States Army who have since 1775 kept this nation and its people safe from the dark forces of oppression," McHugh said. "America's Army, since the very moment of its inception, has been the greatest institution for good that the world has ever known.

"So let me say this: for all veterans who ever wore the uniform of the United States Army, and those who wear it today and into the future, thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your service, thank you for keeping us and people who love liberty across this globe, free ... Happy Birthday U.S. Army."

Page last updated Mon June 11th, 2012 at 00:00