By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJune 21, 2013
Fort Belvoir celebrated the Army's 238th birthday and the 236th anniversary of the American Flag, June 14, in front of the garrison headquarters building.
Guest speaker Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commander, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington commanding general, said the Army has taken great pride in defending the U.S. throughout the nation's existence, thanks to the courage and sacrifice of Soldiers, civilians and Family members.
"Two hundred-thirty-eight years ago, our nation's leaders established the Continental Army and ever since then, our Army has always answered the nation's call -- whenever and wherever it is called to serve," Linnington said. "During times of profound peace and conflict, our Army has been entrusted to defend this great nation, preserve democracy and to defend freedom at home and abroad."
Men, women and children stood together outside the garrison's headquarters to witness Linnington's speech and to enjoy additional festivities during Belvoir's celebration. Event participants, many of whom displayed their love of country by holding a U.S. flag, also toured one of the 12th Aviation Battalion's UH-72A Lakota Helicopters, and enjoyed birthday cake, hot dogs and water provided by the ceremony's sponsors.
Participants also listened to remarks from Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, Col. Gregory D. Gadson and Stephen Brooks, Deputy to the Installation Commander, who read President Barack Obama's Army birthday proclamation.
Fort Belvoir, which is minutes away from President George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, is one of the most historical and significant grounds in the country, according to Linnington. This made it a very appropriate place to celebrate the Army's birthday and Flag Day.
"Fort Belvoir is absolutely the right place to honor our nation's Soldiers and to celebrate the birth of the United States Army," Linnington said. "We know that Washington must have passed many times along these very grounds of the garrison headquarters and the beautiful fields displayed here."
Linnington said Army leadership will continue to prepare Soldiers to defend the nation at a moment's notice. He said the last 12 years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is the Army's longest experience of sustained warfare, has only made the Soldiers, civilians and Families stronger and more appreciated by U.S. citizens.
An objective of Army leaders is to continue to serve and defend the nation by integrating personnel into communities, leading and participating in local civic and religious organizations and remaining transparent with and connected to U.S. citizens, according to Linnington.
"We will do this by remaining disciplined, fit, ready and resilient and ready to do what the nation asks us to do, now and into the future," Linnington said. "As leaders and as Soldiers, readiness is indeed our primary responsibility."
According to the National Library of Congress website, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing June 14 as national Flag Day to commemorate the adoption of the stars and stripes. Congressional legislation designating June 14 as the national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949.
Gadson said the nation's flag brings a warm feeling of pride to Soldiers who see the U.S. colors waving at Embassies and businesses overseas.
"For a brief moment, when you're eyes spot the familiar pattern of red white and blue, you suddenly feel at home," Gadson said. "Our flag is a symbol of hope and perseverance."
Gadson said the celebration of Flag Day and the Army birthday honors the bravery, professionalism and excellence achieved by Soldiers, Families and civilians.
"There's no doubt that America would not be the powerful beacon of democracy that it is today without the exceptional men and women who have served in our Army," Gadson said. "In celebrating the Army's 238th birthday we clearly see that the birth of our Army was truly the birth of freedom for our great nation."
The garrison's birthday ceremony concluded with the singing of the Army Song and participants gathering on the garrison headquarters' steps to pose for pictures. Afterwards, men, women and children ate, conversed and reflected on the occasion.
"I just reflect on where we started and where we're going," said Capt. Russell Zayas, B Company, 12th Aviation Battalion, commander, speaking about the Army's birthday. "Any opportunity for military Families and civilians to recognize something special is always a good day."