By Jason Cutshaw (SMDC/ARSTRAT)June 25, 2019
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - Tennessee Valley civic and military leaders began Armed Forces Celebration Week festivities with a proclamation signing ceremony at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce June 24.
A weeklong series of events throughout the community, Armed Forces Celebration Week honors the service and sacrifice of men and women who have served in all branches of the military, past and present, and recognizes the partnership of Team Redstone with North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley.
"This is indeed an honor for me to have the opportunity to accept this proclamation on behalf of Team Redstone and the 40,000 people who work each and every day on the arsenal in support of our nation," said Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "Whether it is the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, NASA, Department of Justice or many other organizations, it truly is a remarkable place to work and to serve our great nation.
"Really, since its beginning as a hub of missile and space research and development after World War II, Redstone Arsenal has grown into a world-class installation, comprising more than 70 organizations," he added. "Our partnership continues and it is a remarkable community to live in and be a part of. We look forward to a great week, and thank you very much for what all you do for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen each and every day."
Dickinson said that members of Team Redstone are grateful for a community that has always welcomed the armed forces with so much support for service members and their families.
In addition to thanking the community, he also mentioned the role the Tennessee Valley has played in supporting the nation and Army's historic and NASA's future space missions. Dickinson said this year the nation celebrates landing on the moon, an historic achievement that was built upon a foundation laid at Redstone Arsenal. He also spoke about the great things current Army astronauts are doing in service to the nation.
"This year is the 50th anniversary of the United States landing on the moon," Dickinson said. "Today, in fact, we will receive back from the International Space Station Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain, who is returning from a six-month deployment to the International Space Station. On the 20th of July we are going to have another Army astronaut go to the International Space Station who belongs to the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Col. Drew Morgan."
Dickinson accepted the proclamation signed by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Madison City Mayor Paul Finley and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.
Battle said he appreciates how the community supports the military members and civilians who work on Redstone Arsenal.
"To each of you, thank you for being here and being a part of Armed Forces Celebration Week as we honor those serving in the armed services and in our community," Battle said. "Events don't just happen during this week, but all year long. We honor those who serve us and those who protect us. We thank them for their leadership, we thank them for their sacrifice, and we thank them for doing their duty to this nation because it is a duty that keeps us the land of the free."
Aside from the proclamation, the chamber's annual Armed Forces Celebration Week includes a concert in the park, a community concert by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band from Fort Benning, Georgia, an Armed Forces Celebration Luncheon as well as other events.
"This is the best relationship anywhere in the Army and probably anywhere in the Department of Defense," said retired Maj. Gen. Lynn Collyar, Armed Forces Celebration Week Committee chairman. "It is mainly because Huntsville, Madison and Madison County 'get it.' They understand the significance of what the military does for the community. They understand the economic impact, the quality of our schools, the quality of our people and it all began with the growth that started in the 1940s when Redstone Arsenal was formed.
"We continue to get better," he added. "We continue to gain and grow new organizations on Redstone Arsenal and a lot of it has to do with this community."