By Jordan ChapmanJune 12, 2009
The memory of past wars and Soldiers who fought to defend the freedom and liberty of the United States since the nation's birth were honored during the Army's 234th birthday and the 1st Infantry Division's 92nd birthday celebration June 11 on the parade field in front of the 1st Infantry Division headquarters.
Accompanied by a World War II halftrack, a Korean-War era Jeep, OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an up-armored Humvee, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers represented each conflict with period uniforms from the Revolutionary War, a Cavalryman from between 1784 and 1898, both World Wars, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Global War on Terrorism.
"Our Army has served our nation from the time before there was a nation. Before there was a United States, there was an Army," said Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, explaining further that the United States Army has served as the guarantor of the nation's way of life.
"We (Soldiers) live by a sense of loyalty, a focus on our duty, respect for one another and for others, we live with a sense of selfless service. Honor is important to us. Integrity is important to us and personal courage is essential to all that we do everyday," Brooks said, noting that those values are not only important to the everyday lives of Big Red One Soldiers, but also to America.
Brooks reminded Soldiers present that as they wear the Big Red One patch, they too should be reminded of the many firsts that the 1st Infantry Division has acquired in its 92 years of existence, including being the first to fight in North Africa, the first in Iraq during Desert Storm and others.
"We are further reminded as we look at the red and the one of the sacrifices of our Soldiers. The sacrifices that were not too great for them -- they were more than we should have asked and more than we deserve. The sacrifices of blood, our national treasure, sent by Soldiers who are the strength of the Army," Brooks said, next introducing Private Jake Ryan Hoffmann, 17, who joined the Army in February and who arrived at Fort Riley June 8 only to be declared the youngest soldier on post.
That declaration allowed Hoffmann to cut the Army's birthday cake with Brooks using a ceremonial saber, an honor Hoffmann stated surprised him.
"'I'm the youngest in the division''" Hoffmann said he asked himself when was first notified. "That's a lot of people that I'm younger than," he continued, noting that getting to cut the cake with Brooks was a task that made him rather nervous.
"That was probably the highest rank I have seen in my life," he said with a smile.
Also honored during the ceremony was Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Cpl. Avery Abbott, who made the first ceremonial cut to the 1st Infantry Division birthday cake.
"It's a great honor to be named NCO of the Year in the Year of the NCO and is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life," Abbott said.
Brooks also asked all of those present that as they continue forward in their lives to redouble their efforts to be better citizens, Soldiers, workers and to live by the values and legacy of the great United States Army of 234 years as they reflect on both birthdays that they had all gathered to celebrate.