Celebrating with friends
June 18, 2012
By Rhonda Apple
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall command leadership, together with Arlington County leadership, community partners and friends, celebrated the Army's 237th birthday June 14, with a birthday cake-cutting ceremony in Arlington, Va., at the Arlington County Courthouse.
JBM-HH Commander Col. Carl R. Coffman and Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan co-hosted the event.
"For 237 years, the United States Army has protected and defended our nation against all threats," said Donnellan. "Locally this installation, known as Fort Whipple, Fort Myer, and now, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, has called Arlington its home since the days of the Civil War." Donnellan spoke on behalf of all Americans, thanking the Army for its service, dedication and sacrifice to the nation. "As Arlingtonians, we are very pleased and honored to have you in our community. On the occasion of the Army's birthday, it is again appropriate for us to renew our commitment to support you as you support and defend this nation," she said. "We've enjoyed a tremendous partnership over the years and I believe our partnership has never been stronger than it is today."
Donnellan said through formal partnerships collaborating on issues including public safety, emergency preparedness and response, environmental initiatives, transportation management and infrastructure or by simply gathering together to celebrate and commemorate the Army's birthday with JBM-HH, Arlington County and JBM-HH have, and will continue to support each other.
"Every year, on June 14, we set aside time to celebrate our Army's heritage and its proud traditions and to remember the generations of Soldiers who followed in the footsteps of those colonists who left their homes to embrace our nation's call to duty," said Coffman. "From 1775, when U.S. leaders established the Continental Army, this act brought the militias of the 13 colonies together in their revolt against the oppressive rule of the British -- beginning our Army's rich heritage of meeting the needs of our nation to defend her citizens."
Although the odds were not in our country's favor, Coffman explained "Soldiers made up for what they lacked with enthusiastic patriotism and fervent dedication to the ideals of freedom."
"Today's Army is the best equipped, trained and led Army in history," said Coffman, crediting the 1.1 million professional Soldiers who serve, including National Guardsmen and reservists in about 150 countries world-wide -- carrying the same patriotism and devotion of those Soldiers in the Continental Army.
He also credited the 278,000 Army civilians for their commitment to serving the nation. "They take the same oath as Army officers and members of Congress to support and defend the Constitution," said Coffman.
Coffman also gave credit to Army Families, and said Soldiers and civilians couldn't do what they do without this support.
"Since 9/11, we've been an Army at war -- the longest in our country's history. But our wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children -- our 1.4 million Army Families -- have shouldered this burden as well," said Coffman. He pointed out that although Families endure hardships, they provide the love and support that strengthens the spirit of the Army.
"Our Army spouses have to act as both mother and father during deployments, and every day they deal with the same uncertainty our Soldiers face. But Army Families Soldier on. They are self reliant, give back to their communities and give back to the Army." Coffman credited the strength of communities -- government, business, service and civic leaders, employers, educators and citizens - for providing support for Army Soldiers, civilians and Families.
"Arlington County and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall have shared a long history since 1861, when 40,000 Soldiers garrisoned the defenses of Washington at the peak of the Civil War on what was known as the Arlington Line," said Coffman. "Since then, we have shared a positive partnership -- one that continues to grow today. Together, we are committed to building a stronger community -- one that supports the strength, resilience and readiness of our Soldiers and their Families." In conclusion, Coffman said it was much more than words when he said the Army is the strength of the nation. "It is a building block that takes hundreds of thousands of people: The strength of our nation is our Army, our Soldiers, our Families, neighbors and communities. All combined, that is what makes us Army strong," he said.
"Arlington is a very small place -- 26 square miles -- yet we believe our impact and presence is much larger than that, as evidenced by our very significant military presence, including the Pentagon, the Joint Base [JBM-HH] and Arlington Hall," said Jay Fisette of the Arlington County Board. He expressed the county's pride in their working relationship with the military and their Families over many years , forming a partnership between the county and JBM-HH through planning in many areas of commerce, including transportation and energy, emergency preparedness and joint work between law enforcement and fire department [emergency services] between Arlington and the joint base.
Soldiers from Headquarters Command Battalion greeted guests and presented them ceremony programs and JBM-HH public affairs representatives handed out Army lapel pins. The audience filled the County Board room, representing JBM-HH and Arlington County leadership and employees, members of the county's Chamber of Commerce, police and fire departments.
Following presentation of the colors, Master Sgt. Antonio Giuliano, vocalist, United States Army Band, sang the national anthem to begin the ceremony, led guests in singing happy birthday to the Army and concluded the ceremony leading the crowd as they sang the The Army Song, with a resounding Army hooah!
Joining Coffman during the official cake cutting were Donnellan, Fisette and Libby Garvey of the Arlington County Board, JBM-HH Command Sgt. Maj. Necati Akpinar, U.S. Army Headquarters Command Bn. Commander Lt. Col. Eric B. Fleming, and Headquarters Command Bn. Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Jessup.
Pfc. Jordan Taylor, 19, 289th MP Co.'s youngest Soldier, led Coffman and Donnellan in cutting the Army birthday cake as part of the time-honored tradition of having the youngest Soldier cut the ceremonial cake on the Army's birthday. The Old Guard's 289th is headquartered at JBM-HH.
Coffman recognized special guests in attendance, retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph DeFrancisco, the Civilian Aid to the Secretary of the Army for Northern Virginia. He also presented his commander's coin to Donnellan, Fisette and Garvey during the ceremony.
"We are extremely honored to have such great neighbors and partners in Arlington County," said Leah Rubalcaba, JBM-HH community relations officer. "Arlington County leaders wholeheartedly offered to host this year's Army birthday celebration as a testament to their continued support of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and our servicemembers."