By Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the ArmyJuly 3, 2014
What a great night. First I had the opportunity to watch these great Soldiers that represent all of us. We have the Army Soldier show where the Soldiers will again be performing here in a minute. They are taken from the broad Army. That is the National Guard, the Army Reserves, and the Active Army. They are from all over our Army and are brought together to do this show throughout the Army. It just shows the incredible talent that we have. It is a blessing whenever I have the opportunity to see them.
239 years ago. This is a day for us to celebrate who we are, to celebrate this great Army of ours. One of the things we do not do very well in the Army is really talk much about ourselves. We just go about doing our business. What does our talking is to look at the colors: 187 battle streamers earned by millions of men and women throughout this nation's history. That is who we are. We started out as a Volunteer Force back in 1775. Today we remain a Volunteer Force. A lot has gone on in between. That is what tonight is about.
It is about remembering who we are. It is about that Soldier who stood up for our freedom and liberty back in 1775. It is about those Soldiers who fought for our freedom in 1812. It is about the Soldiers who kept this nation together during the Civil War. It is about the incredible Soldiers who fought in World War I to save Europe. Then again I was reminded a few weeks ago of the great men and women who sacrificed all when the basic freedoms of everyone in the world were being challenged. They were willing to raise their right hand and swear that oath to the Constitution of the United States. That is who we are. That has gone on throughout our history. Whether it is in Vietnam, Korea, Panama, in the deserts of the Middle East. Today is no different. As I stand here today we have 70,000 Soldiers deployed around the world doing our nation's business. They do it with no fanfare. They do it because that is what is needed to sustain our freedom. That is who we are. We are a nation and a group of Soldiers who support this nation and who believe in the values of this country. That is why we are here to celebrate tonight.
We have Soldiers today who are in Afghanistan in the mountains. We have Soldiers today in Kosovo. We have Soldiers today training units in Africa. We have Special Operations Forces operating around the world preparing to deploy back to Iraq. We have Soldiers conducting operations in Central America. We have Soldiers assuring our allies in Eastern Europe. Their presence makes a difference. We do our work quietly, but we do it to protect this great nation. That is what the 239th birthday of the United States Army is about. It is about Soldiers.
We are about Soldiers: men and women who have sacrificed their entire lives to help this country to be the best nation in the world. We could not do that without our families who stand behind us all the way. They love their Soldiers and do whatever they can to support them. That is what this birthday is about. So it is an honor for me to stand here in front of all of you this evening. It is an honor for me to represent the incredible men and women of this great Army of ours. I just want you to remember as you go about your business every day that the strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. Don't ever forget that. That is what makes us Army Strong. (Applause).
Now I would like to introduce the 21st Secretary of the Army, who has led us for five years during the most difficult times. He leads us with passion. He cares about Soldiers and families. He has dedicated himself to our Army. The Secretary of the Army, John McHugh.