WASHINGTON -- Army installations around the world are celebrating the Army's 242nd birthday today, June 14. The types of celebrations are as varied and unique as each of the bases where they take place, but they all celebrate the enduring value of the Army and the service of its Soldiers in its 242 years of existence.
A common Army birthday observance at many installations is a cake cutting ceremony, allowing Soldiers to take a few moments from their duties to enjoy the company of their compatriots and reflect together on the Army's distinguished history.
In fact, many of these ceremonies feature a unique Army tradition. It is customary for the Soldier on base with the most amount of time in the service to share the cake cutting duty with the Soldier who has spent the least amount of time in the service.
For the 335th Signal Command stationed in East Point, Ga., U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. James Freitag and Pfc. Maurice Montgomery performed the cake cutting for their unit's Army birthday festivities this year. Freitag, at 59 years of age, has a distinguished 36-year service record, while Montgomery, a 22-year-old medic, just joined the service two months ago. Both men smiled proudly as they posed for photos, ready to serve up a special birthday cake frosted in Army colors.
The New York National Guard also participated in a cake cutting ceremony at the New York National Guard Headquarters in Latham, N.Y. For these Guard Soldiers, the Army's birthday was an opportunity to not only celebrate the Army's heritage, but embrace new beginnings as well. The Soldiers uncased the new colors of the Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters detachment during the birthday festivities.
Over at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers counterbalanced their cake consumption with a Family-Soldier Fun Run/Walk. Soldiers, their families, and supportive civilians all participated in the two-mile run that took place on June 12.
Following the run, the fort hosted a wellness fair that promoted activities and programs to ensure that Army Soldiers remain physically, emotionally, and mentally fit as the world's best fighting force for the next 242 years as well. In addition to physical fitness and exercise, the fair emphasized the importance of sleep and balanced nutrition in contributing to overall wellness.
Prior to the run and the fair, U.S. Army Pacific also held ceremony where dozens of Soldiers commemorated the Army's 242-year existence by re-enlisting. Approximately 33 Soldiers from across Oahu, who already had a combined 253 years of service, re-enlisted during the ceremony to commit to another 144 years of service collectively.
Thousands of miles away in Englishtown, N.J., the U.S. Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command joined with the local community to celebrate the Army birthday during the National Hot Rod Association Summer Nationals at the Old Bridge Township Raceway. The event, called "Army Day at the Races," invited civilians to partake in a variety of physical fitness challenges alongside Soldiers, including pull-ups and push-ups. For their hard exercise, the Soldiers also participated in a birthday cake-cutting ceremony at the track.
The civilian participation in birthday festivities continued in Hinesville, Ga., as the local community gathered with the 3rd Infantry Division to celebrate the Army birthday at the local farmer's market.
A few Soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division formed a band and played songs to serenade the market goers, while local community members signed a large Army birthday card with personalized notes of thanks and good wishes.
Col. Townley Hedrick, the garrison commander of Fort Stewart, Ga., cut the Army birthday cake with a local veteran service member as a gesture of the good relationship that Fort Stewart shares with the citizens of Hinesville. Even Rocky, the official mascot of the 3rd Infantry Division, made an appearance to pose for photos and help celebrate.
Other community celebrations of the Army birthday involved another American tradition: baseball. Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee, acting director, Cybersecurity Directorate and Army Lead for Network Modernization, was invited to throw out the first pitch for the San Jose Giants Class A minor league team on June 15, in commemoration of the Army birthday.
He was joined by members of the Santa Clara University ROTC department, who also supported the game with a color guard.
As each of these commemorations show, Army Soldiers, their families, and their communities are proud to celebrate the Army's birthday and its history as the nation's premier fighting force for 242 years and counting.