By Esther GarciaJuly 31, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Leaders from the San Antonio and Fort Sam Houston communities joined Lt. Gen. Thomas Turner, commanding general, Army North, in an Army Community Covenant signing ceremony July 27 at the gazebo on Staff Post Road.
The covenant recognizes the support of the local community, associated with sustaining Army missions in San Antonio and welcoming Army Soldiers and their Families as members of the community.
Turner, host for the ceremony, said, "Today we will sign a covenant that pledges the support of the San Antonio community to the Soldiers and Families of Fort Sam Houston."
The nation has been at war since Sept. 11, 2001. The burden that has been asked of Soldiers and their Families has endured for nearly seven years. This covenant reaffirms the community support of Soldiers and their Families.
Invited to sign the covenant included Louis Stumberg, civilian aide to secretary of the Army; Tommy Adkisson, Bexar County Commissioner Precinct 4; Councilwoman Sheila McNeil, City Council District 2; Councilwoman Diane Cibrian, City Council District 8; Richard Perez, president, The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce; Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, commanding general, Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center and School; J. Randall Robinson, director, U.S. Army Installation Management Command-West Region; Col. Wendy Martinson, commander, U. S. Army Garrison; Gail Siller, superintendent, Fort Sam Houston Independent School District; and retired Army Maj. Gen. Alvin Schofield, United States Army Reserve ambassador.
The signing ceremony included the signing of a 5-foot-tall covenant by all the participants. The poster-size covenant will be on display at various locations on Fort Sam Houston.
Turner spoke about the history of the Army in San Antonio.
He said the U.S. Army has been in San Antonio and has been an integral part of San Antonio since the troops of the 2nd Dragoon set foot in the city in 1845. Their mission was to protect the citizens during the annexation of Texas.
In the 1870s the Army was spread throughout the city and rented buildings, paying an exorbitant price of $30,000 a year in rent and living with the threat of disease. In 1867, 71 of 28 Soldiers assigned to the Garrison contracted malaria. Since no rail line ran through San Antonio, the Army was ready to move out, but the citizens of San Antonio decided that was not going to happen. The city deeded 92 acres to the government to keep the Army here.
"The citizens of San Antonio have earned the title 'Military City USA,'" said Turner. "The history of the Army and the City of San Antonio are so intertwined, they appear one and the same. We are honored to call San Antonio, we are honored to call Military City home, and we are honored that the city takes the time today to reaffirm the support of the city to our Soldiers and their Families."
Following the Army Community Covenant signing ceremony, Martinson and Robinson hosted a summer gazebo concert by the Army Medical Command Band.
The band, led by Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Paarmann, performed a variety of tunes from swing to patriotic marches.