The Army celebrates its 247th birthday on June 14, which also coincides with Flag Day.
At Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, home to the Army's elite ceremonial units including the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing's Own,” this year’s Army Birthday means returning to in-person events once again.
On June 16, the annual Army Birthday Run returns after a brief hiatus since the pandemic began. Hosted by senior Army leaders from the Pentagon, historically, hundreds of service members start their birthday run journey on the Fort Myer side of the Joint Base, run through Arlington National Cemetery and return back to the installation.
The Old Guard will once again host the Army Birthday Cake Cutting, featuring the time-honored tradition of the youngest Soldier and the oldest Soldier cutting the cake with swords.
Starting on Wednesdays from May 4 through July 27, Twilight Tattoo performances will resume at Summerall Field, hosted by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. All ceremonial units will depict the history of the U.S. Army with music and re-enactments. A special salute will commemorate the Army’s birthday at the June 15 performance.
“JBM-HH’s mission is to provide ceremonial support to these units, senior leaders and Department of Defense organizations from the Pentagon and the region – as needed on the Joint Base,” said Leah Rubalcaba, community relations officer for JBM-HH. “We are able to showcase the Army's elite ceremonial units by inviting our community leaders, partners and neighbors to these special ceremonies and pageants held on the base.”
Joint Base Commander Col. David Bowling, who took command last May, said since the Army’s 246th birthday, his team has made remarkable progress to include small, measurable improvements across the joint base all while accomplishing the mission in an extremely difficult COVID-19 environment.
“Our Directorate of Public Works has done a good job repairing some of the failing infrastructure around the joint base and our Department of Emergency Services has done a phenomenal job in tackling and answering emerging requirements while maintaining the same level of resources,” said Bowling. “Everybody has done a really good job balancing mission requirements with available resources.”
Other accomplishments Bowling highlighted in the past year include continued developments in IWEP (Installation, Water and Energy Plan). “The team has done a great job in developing IWEP,” said Bowling. “As we continue to reduce reliance on other folks, the team is taking a look at how we can become more self-sufficient and enable energy resilience.”
By the Army’s 248th birthday, Bowing said he wants to see continued improvements in modernized information technology, interconnectivity and security at the Joint Base. “Transitioning to a joint base of the future includes determining requirements, cost, and a detailed plan,” he remarked, stating that it is a work in progress. “The Joint Base team is excited to look out across the next year and continue to get after those things that we can do to help take care of our people,” said Bowling.
As one of his top priorities, Bowling emphasized the importance of taking care of the Families of service men and women. “It is no small feat for those Families to support their service members as they execute their duties. I think it's important that we've done a really good job within this country at recognizing that especially since 9-11. But I think that the importance of recognizing families is still needed and we need to continue to do that,” said Bowling.
The excitement leading up to the Army’s upcoming birthday has already been felt at the base even during its initial planning stages. Due to the pandemic and in lieu of an Army Birthday Ball this year, Army leaders are planning an outdoor event on the grounds of the Joint Base.
Sgt. 1st Class Edward Gonzalez is part of the Army’s birthday planning committee.
“I'm pretty excited. It is just like any other birthday. Now it's an extra celebration that Soldiers get to have, besides their own birthdays. And especially being here at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, it’s a whole different side you never see unless you're actually here,” Gonzalez said, describing the incredible work that goes behind the scenes.
As the Army’s upcoming birthday approaches, a number of Soldiers are reminded of their own personal milestones in the military. Spc. Brian Lozano is a regimental announcer for The Old Guard who joined the Army in July of 2019. He credits the Army for helping him develop independence, a sense of purpose, belonging and camaraderie. To celebrate, Lozano plans to research the life of a fallen Ranger, such as in The Airborne Ranger in the Sky, which is a memorial to remember fallen U.S. Army Rangers.
“Every Army birthday, I have researched their lives and taken the time to learn about them, what they stood for, and the circumstances surrounding their death. This is my way to pay my respects to those who paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom,” he said.
Lozano recognizes how far he has come by being in the Army.
“The military is the hardest thing I have ever done. It forced me to push myself to places I didn't think I was capable of reaching. It made me grow into a hard working adult and has considerably accelerated the pace at which my life goes.” said Lozano. “I give thanks every day for the opportunity I was given to serve.”