West Point celebrates Army Birthday
June 14, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 14, 2012) -- Throughout the year there are several holidays that recognize the service of military members, but only one day that's all about the Army. The West Point community gathered June 14 at Buffalo Soldier Field to celebrate the Army's 237th birthday.
Hosted by the West Point Army Community Service, it was described by Monica Orecchio, event coordinator and Relocation Readiness program manager, as an occasion for West Point Soldiers and their families to enjoy some time together for food, fun and friendship.
"Really what we wanted to do was organize an event for our Soldiers to come out with their families and friends and have a fun time," Orecchio, an Army spouse of 24 years, said. "It's a day for us to celebrate because this is our way of life and this is our Army. It's who we are."
Maj. Scott McGrath, from the Department of Military Instruction, couldn't attend because of the work he's doing in preparation for Cadet Basic Training this summer. That didn't stop his family--wife Lisa, son Maximus, and daughter Maci--dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, from enjoying the afternoon.
Lisa said occasions like the Army Birthday and Flag Day remind her of family members, past and present, who served their country.
"It makes me think of all of our family's sacrifices. Not just my husband, but my grandparents who served through the Korean War and World War II. A lot of people don't think of all the luxuries they have today that people didn't have back then," Lisa said.
After releasing her kids to the bounce house and the kite-decorating booth, she made a point to hug a nearby ACS staff member, who she's become quite familiar with at West Point.
"I love them all. I couldn't survive in the military without Army Community Service…truly," Lisa said. "At every duty station I've been to--and my husband had deployed last year--they really embrace family members of deployed Soldiers and do such an amazing job of supporting us. I truly didn't feel alone."
The event included plenty of activities for family members such as kite-flying, soccer, arts and crafts and a picnic lunch hot off the grill. At the arts and crafts tent, children could decorate their kites, get a removable tattoo and Frisbee and even make a gift for Father's Day. ACS also operated a kooky costume booth for family members to dress in costumes for photos which will appear on its Flickr site.
Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Polk, La., took some time off from their mission to enjoy a little soccer and lunch during the Army Birthday Celebration. The squadron is at West Point to assist with Cadet Summer Training and Private 1st Class Matthew Kirmssee and Private Dakota Anglin agreed that any opportunity to relax is good for Soldiers.
Some of the youngest members of the West Point community celebrated the Army's Birthday at the Stony Lonesome Child Development Center. Approximately 60 kids were treated to a reading of the book "Happy Birthday U.S. Army" outside the CDC, narrated by Garrison Commander Col. Mike Tarsa. The area was decorated in patriotic arts and crafts they made for the occasion. They also sang "Happy Birthday" and a few other tunes in honor of the U.S. Army.
The West Point Band will close out the celebration at 7:30 p.m. Sunday with a performance at the Trophy Point Amphitheater. Following the "American Overture for Band" by J.W. Jenkins, the Concert Band will perform "Army Strong."
They will close out their portion of the concert with "American Salute," a work by famous composer Morton Gould. It is based on the familiar tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." The Hellcats will then take the stage to perform alongside the Concert Band, as well as present a drum and bugle segment. The concert will then close with the Streamer Ceremony, during which the Concert Band will play as battle streamers are attached to the Army flag.