By Ms. Joyce Costello (IMCOM)June 12, 2009
CAMP DARBY, Italy - The young and the old, U.S. servicemembers and Italian military and carabinieri members, retirees and family members all gathered together to celebrate the 234th Army Birthday with a special ball here.
Lt. Col. Steven Cade, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Livorno, said he believes "the tradition the community upheld is a vital part that links us to our Army's past and our Nation's military heritage."
"America relies on the spirit and can do attitude of the American Soldier, Sailor and Airman ... a spirit that we all share in this room and continues to grow with the understanding of those that came before us and those that will come after us," said Cade.
U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Hartless added that it's important to take a moment to reflect on the things that the men and women serving in the Army have fought, sacrificed and died during the past 234 years.
"The men and women serving in our Army have always, from it's inception during the American Revolution to today's Global War on Terrorism, have been willing to step up and put their lives on the line to fight for freedom and liberty," said Hartless. "I am grateful to live in a nation and be part of an Army that is willing to put so much on the line; sometimes even lives, to ensure that our families and the people of our great country can continue to live and enjoy the freedom that we so often take for granted."
The Army ball was made possible by the efforts of Camp Darby noncommissioned officers, said master of ceremonies, Staff Sgt. Stephen Walker.
"NCOs sold hamburgers and hotdogs every Monday for several months and held a hole-in-one golf contest to help offset the cost of the ball and provide free tickets to the junior enlisted," said Walker.
For Spc. Gagik Khoudian, 511th Military Police Company, this was his first time to attend an Army ball.
"It's an honor to be at an Army birthday ball because not a lot of the junior enlisted get an opportunity to come to an event like this," said Khoudian.
Getting a chance to cut the birthday cake alongside the youngest Soldier in the room and senior leaders for Ron Walton, a 25 year veteran and retired 1st Sgt., was a honor that he said touched him deeply.
"I am spellbound to be part of a community that I left 20 years ago," said Walton, currently the USAG Livorno installation transportation officer. "Except for the uniform, I feel like I am still part of the Army and doing what I love to do 'look after the soldiers'."
Walton added that he is looking forward to sharing the next Army birthday with the Camp Darby community.