Natick, Mass. -- It's not every day you turn 243 years old. But like they always say, age is just a number.

On June 14, the United States Army celebrated its 243rd birthday. Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, and representatives from the town of Natick, met at Natick Soldiers Systems Center (NSSC) to celebrate an Army older than the nation it serves.

As part of a long-standing Army tradition, the oldest and youngest Soldiers, Lt. Col. Michael Boye and PV2 Ricky Pena, were on hand to cut the cake. The cake is traditionally cut with a sword, but because 2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War I (WWI), an authentic WWI-era bayonet was used.

Keeping with the WWI theme, reenactors from nearby Fort Devens, decked out in the traditional early twentieth century Army "doughboy" uniforms, were also in attendance.

Maj. Gerald Woodford, installation chaplain, had this to say about deeper meaning of the celebration.
"We gathered here to pay tribute and to say thank you for 243 years of our Soldiers faithful service to our great nation, from the Revolutionary War to current operations throughout the world. Sweat, blood and tears have been shed for the cause of freedom. So we pay homage to those who have donned the uniform."

Lt. Col. Bryan Martin, garrison commander, NSSC, highlighted a few significant events in the history of the Army, with special focus on lessons learned during "the war to end all wars," and how they can be applied to the modern Army.

"The Army went through a big shift in technology during WWI, just as we are doing today. Our Army is modernizing to innovate and adapt concepts, equipment, and training to be ready for the next challenge, as we will not have the buildup time forces in WWI received before being tested in that first unforgiving minute."

Martin's messages aligns with the Secretary of the Army's modernization strategy, which was published Oct. 3, 2017.

The central focus of the strategy is to make Soldiers and units more lethal in order to win the nation's wars, and to come home safely. To accomplish this, the modernization process will leverage commercials innovations and cutting-edge science and technology. Prototyping and warfighter feedback will be utilized to meet these objectives.