WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 18, 2014) -- "I'm incredibly proud to represent the men and women of the United States Army," Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno told legislators at the 239th Army birthday ceremony and cake cutting at the Capitol, today.

Odierno reflected on his visit last week to the beaches of Normandy, France, where the Army landed on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

He recalled talking to World War II veterans who were there and "how proud they are of what they represent and how proud they are of our current Army."

The 187 battle streamers on the Army flag represent Soldiers' "service in every conflict since this nation began," he continued.

There are currently 80,000 Soldiers deployed or conducting operations in some 150 nations.

After speaking with veterans from a few of those 187 conflicts, Odierno said he concluded that "once you're a Soldier, you're always a Soldier. It never leaves you."

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh spoke as well.

He said it's fitting that the ceremony took place in the Capitol.

"One reason this Army has been sustained since its founding is because of our citizen legislators," he said. "We depend on our great leaders in the House and Senate who protect our interests and support the men and women in uniform, as well as our civilian workers."

McHugh said he too reflected on the Army's sacrifices over the last 239 years, when he visited Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, Sunday, during its 150th anniversary commemoration event.

"True success and gains this nation has made, depends on every man and women who puts on this uniform" as well as those of the other services, he concluded.

Also speaking at the ceremony were Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, of Maryland; Rep. John Carter, of Texas; Sen. Jack Reed, of Rhode Island; and Sen. James M. Inhofe, of Oklahoma.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and a number of other Army leaders attended, as well as members of Congress and friends of the Army.

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