By Richard L Baker, U.S. Army Military History InstituteDecember 2, 2008
Since its inception in April 2007, the "This Week in Army History" project has published ninety-two articles reflecting the story and history of the United States Army and the American soldier. The official history of the U.S. Army begins with its establishment on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress "Resolved: That six companies of expert riflemen be immediately raised...." and that each soldier would swear that "I -------, have this day voluntarily enlisted myself, as a Soldier, in the American Continental Army...." The story of the American soldier, though, predates that event by nearly 170 years. Colonel Robert Dalessandro reflected on America's first soldiers in his article "Army Strong - - Celebrating 400 Years of Service" [May 13, 2007]. He reminded us "to remember that long before the official birth of the Army, the colonists in young America looked to a fledgling military for leadership, protection, and expertise."
Our contributors have endeavored to continue to "Tell the Army Story, One Soldier at a Time" through one story at a time. We have read of "Boston Under Siege" in David Keough's article [March 16, 2008] in which he tells of the siege laid against the British occupying Boston by the "Minutemen" and patriots serving under George Washington. In Jessica Sheets' article "The Road to Glory" [August 3, 2008] the award of the first Purple Heart on May 3, 1783, to Sergeants Elijah Churchill and William Brown Churchill speaks to the long history of valor displayed by America's service members. Such valor and dedication appear in the story of U. S. soldiers under siege, as presented in Randy Hackenburg's article "Puebla under Siege: American Soldiers Resist Guerilla Infiltration" [October 12, 2008]. Gallantry and valor are but part of the crucible of war. Sometimes great commanders are equally great leaders and show magnanimity to the vanquished. Dr. Richard Sommers's article "One Way to End a War" [April, 8, 2007] reflects General Ulysses S Grant's compassion for the Confederate soldiers. He allowed those soldiers who owned their mules and horses to "take the animals home with them to work their little farms."
Our effort to "Tell the Army Story, One Soldier at a Time" has produced articles about battles and people, the victors and the vanquished, innovation and creativity, bravery and sacrifice -- bravery as displayed in Captain Shane Reilly's article [February 3, 2008] "Faith in the Face of Fear;" sacrifice as illustrated in Mary Gasper's story [May 25, 2008], "The 'noble dead, who fell' will never be forgotten: the first Memorial Day." Articles reflecting the roles of the different peoples who make up our Nation have included John Kurash's article "Tuskegee Airmen Soared to New Heights" [May 27, 2007]. The impact of technology, both advanced and simple, on the military is shown in Kaleb Dissinger's article [February 24, 2008], "GPS Goes to War...." Then in LTC (ret) Charles "Chuck" Moody's story "Mater Artium Necessitas - The P-38" [April 13, 2008] we learned of the simple but widely used P-38 can opener.
"This Week in Army History" articles share the common goal of presenting the story of the U.S. Army and the American soldier. We hope you will join us each week as we continue to present our history "One Story at a Time."