ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The nation's flags framed a small meadow at the Ruggles Golf Course May 12, as Team APG ushered in the start of the 2014 Armed Forces Week activities. Opening day kicked off with a breakfast for Gold Star mothers and Family members, hosted by APG leaders followed by a tour of command facilities.

The AFW Opening Ceremony preceded the golf tournament. Maj. Gen. Peter D. Utley, commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, welcomed golfers, Soldiers, government civilians and guests from the surrounding business community.

Guests included Gary Martin, deputy to the commander of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command; CECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Kennis Dent; Col. Gregory McClinton, APG Garrison commander; and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin, as well as local business and elected leaders.

Noting that unity among services was the goal of the first Armed Forces Day, Utley thanked all for their "unwavering support of APG."

He invited listeners to join in the Bike to Work event set for that Wednesday as well as other Wellness Wednesday activities hosted by the U.S. Army Public Health Command and noted APG Soldier and Family achievements would be honored during the Military Appreciation Luncheon set for Thursday.

Quoting former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, Utley said that "'Armed Forces Day, above all, honors the dedicated individuals who wear the uniforms of their country.'"

"Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation,'' he said. "The task of each one is the task of all the armed forces: to protect the freedoms which underlie the greatness of America.'"

Dent encouraged listeners to think about those serving in harm's way and to visit hospitalized veterans during Armed Forces Week and over the coming Memorial Day holiday.

"It is an awesome privilege to say 'thank you' to those who have served," he said. "As we celebrate this week, I encourage you to think about things we can do to help our service members and our veterans."

ATEC Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mark Penfold presented the invocation and Pfc. Stacy Dobson, JPEO CBD, sang the national anthem.