Hundreds from the Fort Gordon community celebrated the United States Army’s 246th birthday early Monday morning with an installation-wide 5K fun run and cake cutting ceremony on Barton Field. Runners and walkers alike from all backgrounds were encouraged to participate.
Moments before stepping off for the run, Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Shaw Pick welcomed everyone to the celebration.
“I want to thank everybody for hanging with us as an installation and coming out of a very challenging year,” Pick said. “It is just great to be out here with you.”
The U.S. Army was founded on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress established the Continental Army. Today it is comprised of multi-component Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians whose contributions to national defense make it the world’s premier land force.
This year’s theme, “Honoring the courage of the American Soldier,” centers on the 246-year legacy of the Army answering the call to defend the United States and its ideals, which are outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Maj. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, said he is proud to serve in the world’s “greatest army.”
“If you think about it, the Army has been doing this for 246 years, which is one year longer than we’ve been the United States of America,” Hersey said. “It started with people getting together over an ideal – that all men and women are created equal without regard to race, color, creed, sexual orientation, and that is something worth defending … we take an oath to an ideal, and that ideal is captured in the Constitution of the United States.”
Since its inception 246 years ago through the present, people have always been the Army’s focus and No. 1 priority.
“Our strength is in our diversity and in our inclusion, and our focus is on people and the fact that we are all part of a team where we are all part of something bigger than ourselves,” Hersey said.
The celebration concluded with a cake cutting tradition where Fort Gordon’s youngest enlisted and youngest officer joined the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence command team in cutting the Army birthday cake.
The installation’s youngest officer, 2nd Lt. Kaisser Kelcho, of 442nd Signal Battalion, said he felt honored to be part of the ceremony. Having a background in computer science and college degree from Arizona State University, Kelcho could have pursued a future elsewhere but willfully chose the Army.
“I’m from the Philippines, and so I wanted to give back to the country that gave me all the opportunities I have here,” Kelcho said.