ARLINGTON, Va. -- The First United States Army, the nation's longest standing and oldest field Army, celebrated their 100th birthday, Aug. 10, 2018, as a delegation visited Arlington National Cemetery to render honors to historical figures from throughout the unit's history.With a soft procedure, Army Maj. Gen. Erik Peterson, acting commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Johnson, the command sergeant major of First Army, laid wreaths at the graves of former First Army commanding generals such as General of the Army Omar Bradley, Gen. Courtney Hodges, Lt. Gen. Hugh Drum, former Soldier Lt. James Higley and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.A public wreath-laying ceremony was also held at the grave of General of the Armies John J. Pershing, the unit's founding commanding general."Today we come to this place not to mourn, rather to recognize the 100th birthday of the First United States Army -- that legendary fighting force built from the whole cloth of our nation, organized, trained and led by Gen. Pershing in World War I," Peterson said."Forever this force will be known as the one that turned the tide in the most costly and lethal war the world had ever known, defeating a seemingly invincible enemy and changing the course of human history," he added.A tremendous achievement, according to Peterson, despite the enormous task given to Pershing when asked to establish a force to fight alongside Allied Forces in Europe in 1918."The U.S. troops who initially arrived in Europe were completely unready to fight," he said."Whether newly formed units or existing organizations whose training had languished, all needed substantial work before they were prepared for combat," Peterson said. "Despite Allied protests, Pershing ordered each American Soldier and unit to be painstakingly trained and validated before entering that lethal fight."He recognized that the character of war had changed and new tactics were required; under his brilliant leadership, America began executing the first battles in Army history to fully coordinate infantry, artillery, tanks and air support," he said."The results speak for themselves," said Peterson, referring to First Army's victories against German forces at the Saint-Mihiel salient and Meuse-Argonne offensive.As Peterson spoke about First Army's involvement in World War I, he reflected on what Pershing had said a century ago as he readied those brave men for war."He said, 'We no longer differentiate in an ultimate sense between Army, National Guard and Reserve Forces. Every energy is bent on the development of the Army of the United States. Our purpose is to think only of the American citizen and prepare him for the duties of war.' That still resonates in our First Army headquarters today," Peterson said."You might say Pershing was the inspiration for our contemporary Army Total Force Policy -- which directs that we organize, man, train and equip our reserve components as an integrated force," he said.But Peterson said it is perhaps Pershing's passion for readiness, one he continued as Chief of Staff of the Army, that has become his greatest legacy.Shared by current Army leadership, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff, Peterson said Pershing's passion for readiness is absolutely timeless and rings true even to this day.According to Peterson, Pershing dedicated the rest of his military career after the Great War to the readiness of the Soldier, and to that of the Army."He championed a capable, well-trained Army and a rigorous education system for our officer and [noncommissioned officer] corps. Even more, he insisted that active and reserve components partner, train and integrate long before that became established policy," Peterson said.Yet many of the changes Pershing championed for would not come to fruition for nearly 70 years after his death, Peterson said."One hundred years after our formation, in the spirit of our founding commander, First Army remains dedicated to the readiness of the Total Force," he said. "As Pershing long advocated, we partner with every single Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve unit in the continental United States and two U.S. territories, providing advice, assistance and training support to ensure our Army's reserve component is ready when called."As U.S. Army Forces Command's designated coordinating authority for implementing the Army Total Force Policy, First Army provides advice, assistance and training support as part of their partnerships, ensuring the Army's reserve components are ready to fight."Today as we recognize this 100 year milestone, the First United States Army is as vital and as relevant as ever," Peterson said. "Each day we commit ourselves to the crucial mission of preparing Soldiers and units for fights to come, soberly aware of the import of that task and of history's painful lessons when we -- as a nation -- did not get it right."