Red Maple Marks Army Reserve Centennial
April 25, 2008
By Alex McVeigh
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, April 25) - A ceremony Wednesday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery commemorated 100 years of service and sacrifice by Army Reserve Soldiers.
The ceremony followed the re-enlisting of 100 Soldiers in the morning on the west lawn of the Capitol. At Arlington National Cemetery, a wreath was laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns and then officials moved to a site near the Memorial Amphitheater to plant a ceremonial tree and unveil a plaque.
It was April 23, 1908 when Congress passed Senate Bill 1424. This bill allowed the Army to create a reserve corps of medical officers. These medical officers could be ordered onto active duty by the secretary of War.
Illinois Congressmen John Shimkus was the event's keynote speaker. A graduate of West Point, he was on active duty for five years after graduation, and then he joined the Army Reserve.
"These corps of medical officers became Citizen-Soldiers, and have since made their mark on history," Shimkus said. "These Citizen-Soldiers have provided this country with the immeasurable gift of service."
Other speakers included Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve and commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command.
"The Army Warrior Ethos says, 'I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit, I will never leave a fallen comrade behind.' We are at Arlington National Cemetery to fulfill the fourth part of the warrior ethos, we are not leaving our fallen comrades behind," he said.
Since 9/11, 158 Army Reservie Soldiers have been killed.
"[The Army Reserve] has become an operational fighting force that is hugely important to defending this nation," said Col. Les Carroll, "and it's only right that we are here to honor these Soldiers."
The ceremony included a prelude and postlude by the 451st Army Reserve Band, 88th Regional Readiness Command, as well as a fly-by from four helicopters that were part of the 12th Aviation Battalion from Fort Belvoir.
Casual visitors were drawn to the ceremony and enjoyed the proceedings. "We were watching the changing of the guard, and we followed a group over here," said Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan was visiting from Boston with his family. "The ceremony was very impressive," he said.
The honor guard wore World War I uniforms as a way to remind people of the Army Reserve's history.
"I was deployed to Iraq with an Army historian, and he asked me about wearing the uniform," said Lt. Col. Jerry Brooks, one of the honor guards. "I didn't mind helping out a friend, especially for this event."
After the ceremonial red maple was planted, Shimkus unveiled the plaque, which reads, "Dedicated to the United States Army Reserve Soldiers and Families who have served and sacrificed for our nation."
Major Willis Madden served as Master of Ceremonies: "It's a particular honor for me to be a part of this. My father and grandfather were both Army Reservists," he said. "Some people claim that the Reserve is no longer relevant, that we should merge with the National Guard. I think if you look at the history of what the Army reserve has done, as well as what it has meant to the Army, you can see that [the Army Reserve] holds many unique capabilities, including the ability to become a Citizen-Soldier."
For more information on the Army Reserve anniversary, see <a href= "http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/04/23/8708-army-reserve-celebrates-first-century-with-100-re-enlistments/> Army Reserve Celebrates First Century with 100 Re-enlistments</a>.
(Alex McVeigh writes for the Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer, Va.)