By Col. Deborah B. GraysJune 26, 2009
Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem
Over the past two weeks, we celebrated the Army's 234th birthday, and we did it in style! I'd like to thank everyone who helped to make our Army birthday events a success.
Your dedication and hard work culminated in a variety of activities that provided something for everyone, and that honored our military service at a level appropriate for such a historic event.
It's difficult to think of the Army birthday without thinking of the freedoms we enjoy today as a result of the brave servicemembers who have protected us for more than two centuries.
The bravery of our founding fathers, and of the servicemembers who have fought to ensure our freedoms since our nation's creation, is celebrated every year on July 4. Independence Day is arguably the most important holiday of our nation.
It commemorates the official adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence not only identifies when our nation was born, it eloquently states the reasons for its birth, marking the end of Britain's rule over the 13 original colonies.
On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks. The popularity of celebrating our nation's birth grew gradually over the years.
These celebrations now range from small picnics and barbecues to the grand-scale fireworks displays that we're accustomed to seeing today. Fort McPherson will be the site of two events honoring our nation's independence.
A fireworks display will be held Thursday at Gammon Field. The event will begin at 7 p.m. with carnival rides for children and the chance to purchase food and beverages and enjoy the summer evening.
The fireworks display is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Anyone who had the opportunity to attend our fireworks display last year can attest to the spectacular pyrotechnics involved.
Let's just say there were plenty of "ooohs" and "ahhhs" to go around. The second event will be the Salute to the Nation, which will be held at Hedekin Field July 4.
I hope you will take time from your busy holiday schedules to attend this event, where 50 flags will fly on Hedekin Field representing each of our nation's great states.
Beginning at 11:50 a.m., each state will be announced in the order it joined the Union, and a 75mm pack howitzer, one of the most potent anti-tank weapons used in World War II, will be fired.
The event will be synchronized so that the cannon fire for the last announced state is expelled at noon at U.S. Army bases throughout the world. The dramatic salute concludes with participants singing the Army song.
I hope that whatever your plans are for celebrating Independence Day, you make these events part of your holiday tradition. While we'll be celebrating our national holiday, we'll also be celebrating a much-deserved long weekend.
With July 3 observed as a federal holiday and July 6 a day of nonscheduled activity for our military personnel in the garrison, we'll have the opportunity to recharge our batteries, spend time with our families and enjoy the recreational fruits of the summer season. With summer fun in the sun in full swing, a strong emphasis on safety is vital.
Many of our Soldiers will drive great distances to visit Families and friends, and swimming, boating, off road driving, barbecuing and fireworks are all popular activities for the 4th of July holiday.
Whatever your plans, vigorously pursue and adopt a risk management plan before you get underway for the holiday celebration. By exercising some forethought and common sense, you can greatly improve the odds of a safe holiday for you and your Family.
I look forward to all of us returning from the long weekend refreshed and ready to work.