By Jason B. Cutshaw, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Public AffairsJune 27, 2017
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Leaders from across the Tennessee Valley gathered Monday to officially kick off Armed Forces Celebration Week festivities with a proclamation signing ceremony at the Huntsville Veterans Memorial June 26.
The proclamation signing gives the surrounding community an opportunity to honor the service and sacrifice of men and women who have served in the all branches of the military, past and present. It also allows recognizes the partnership of Team Redstone with North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley.
"I am honored to accept this proclamation on behalf of the more than 40,000 Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, civilians and contractor teammates who make up Team Redstone's diverse workforce," said Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "All of the community and business leaders gathered here today, I offer you and everyone in the Tennessee Valley, our sincere appreciation for all that you do for our armed forces and for Redstone Arsenal."
Dickinson commented on the community's commitment to the armed forces and their families, and how the men and women of the armed forces of the United States stand ready to deter enemies and defend the nation.
"To prepare for war, the Department of Defense must innovate faster than our potential adversaries to project power from land into all domains, conduct effective maneuvers to defeat enemy forces that possess the means to challenge the joint force," Dickinson said. "The innovation, research, development and testing occurs right here on Redstone Arsenal and within our surrounding communities, to ensure America has continued dominance."
The general was joined by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison City Mayor Paul Finley to sign the proclamation and dedicate the weeklong series of events to honor Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the local community.
"Most places have an Armed Forces Day, whereas we start on Monday and we celebrate a whole week," Battle said. "It is a great week where we can show our appreciation for those who serve us so well. Redstone Arsenal has been our partner in making America safe."
Aside from the proclamation, the chamber's annual Armed Forces Celebration Week includes a concert in the park, a Korean War Veterans Lunch, a community musical performance, an Armed Forces Celebration Luncheon, a golf tournament, community softball games and other events.
"This community gets it," Finley said. "We get it when it comes to our armed forces, the celebration we have and the respect we have for the military. So many of the citizens we have are former military and many of the citizens we have are working Redstone Arsenal and the research park for the overall good and safety of our armed forces."
The leaders gave a recap of the various activities that local businesses had in store for servicemembers during the week.
"We are proud to be a military community that plays a critical role in the defense of our nation," said retired Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, this year's chairman of Armed Forces Celebration Week. "We are very fortunate to have elected leaders in our community who are unmatched in their support of the military. To our elected officials and officers and Soldiers, thank you for helping us kick-off our Armed Forces Celebration Week 2017.
"Please keep our Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen serving our nation on point and in harm's way around the world in your thoughts and prayers, that they may accomplish their mission and return home safely to their families and communities," he added.
Other leaders explained how the service men and women are the reason they were there and the community does a great job honoring those who have served.
"This is a capstone event in our community, it always has been," said Joe Fitzgerald, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. "This week demonstrates our community's support for our armed forces and their many sacrifices."