FORT KNOX, Ky. — Several local leaders and visitors gathered in front of the General George Patton Museum June 14 to witness a special grand reopening.
Many in attendance called it fitting to celebrate the American public’s ability to freely access a museum dedicated to one of the nation’s greatest Army war heroes without requiring a visitor’s pass and entrance to the installation on the very same day as the Army’s 246th Birthday.
“This is a big day, not just for the Patton Museum, which we’re excited to be able to open up the gate again to 31W,” said Maj. Gen. John Evans, Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and senior commander of Fort Knox; “but also it’s a big day for the Army.”
Fort Knox leaders planned several other events for the day, which coincides every year with Flag Day.
Thousands of Soldiers from the major units on post kicked off the celebrations with an early morning formation at Brooks Field, where they witnessed the raising of the large U.S. flag in front of Cadet Command headquarters and a flyover by three Blackhawk helicopters from Godman Army Airfield.
Shortly afterward, Evans motivated the Soldiers with a pep talk before leading the Soldiers on a 5K spirit run.
“Good morning, Fort Knox! It’s somebody’s birthday,” said Evans. “This is a great day to be a Soldier, to be a civilian, to be a Family member in the greatest Army in America.”
Before they set off on the run, Evans turned the formation around and commanded them to wake up the Families sleeping in “the pretty houses” in the historic district.
“When I say ‘Fort Knox,’ I want you to say, ‘Strength starts here,’” said Evans. “FORT KNOX!”
“STRENGTH STARTS HERE!”
“STRENGTH STARTS HERE!”
After the run, Army leaders gathered at various locations to cut birthday cakes and speak to local leaders about what the Army means to the nation. By mid-afternoon, as many sat in Abrams Auditorium waiting for the official Fort Knox cake to be cut, Evans again shared what the Army means to the nation.
“We are part of a very special group, a special fellowship,” said Evans about the Army.
He explained how the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force bring different mission sets to the fight to protect the nation. Yet, none of them can achieve what the Army accomplishes.
“When deterrence fails, America calls on the United States Army,” said Evans. “We’re the only arm of the military that can fight decisively and win regardless of who we’re facing. So today is a pretty important day because today your Army turns 246 years old. I hope you’re as proud of this Army as I am.”
Visiting the installation as a motivational speaker for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, J.P. Lane, along with his wife Chrystal, participated in the ceremony. Lane served as a combat engineer with the Wassau, Wisconsin-based 428th Engineer Company in Afghanistan 2010-11, performing route clearance, when he lost both of his legs during an attack.
Lane said he is speaking around the installation all this week. As a Purple Heart recipient and retired Army veteran, Lane said the Army birthday means a lot to him.
“The Army birthday represents the strength that our military, our Army, has had for 246 years, and being able to pass on that strength from generation to generation. That’s why I continue to thank all our veterans who came before me,” said Lane. “They’ve allowed us to even be here in the first place.
“I hope I can continue to pass on that strength, and continue that legacy for the next 246 years.”