FORT KNOX, Ky. — Just past 6 a.m. on June 14 and temperatures at Brooks Parade Field were already soaring near the 80s. But Fort Knox leaders weren’t about to let the heat stop them from kicking off the Army’s 247th birthday with a 5K run.
After directing the large formation on Brooks Parade Field to face toward the large American flag waving in front of U.S. Army Cadet Command Headquarters to render respect to it, Cadet Command and Fort Knox senior noncommissioned officer Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan turned the formation over to Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis. An aerial formation of three helicopters from nearby Godman Army Airfield flew by.
“Good morning, Fort Knox! With UH-60s flying over this formation, I’m ready to reenlist. Somebody grab a flag,” said Davis. Laughter erupted. “We’re going to get after this but today, let’s just say, ‘Happy Birthday, Army.’ Hooah?”
“HOOAH!” the Soldiers responded.
“247 years of leading this nation, and today we honor each and every one of you,” continued Davis. “You are what makes us strong, and the most powerful Army in the United States — and the world.”
The Army’s birthday coincides with another U.S. national holiday: Flag Day.
According to the Army Birthday site, the First Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 officially established the Continental Army, specifically “six companies of expert riflemen … in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia,” to link up with Soldiers near Boston. This declaration reestablished the New England Army of Observation and combined forces as the Continental Army, giving birth to today’s U.S. Army.
Exactly two years later, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the first version of today’s Stars and Stripes, featuring the same 13 red and white stripes but with a different arrangement of stars. Flag Day didn’t officially become a national holiday until 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration.
The flag is a prominent part of Soldiers’ uniforms today, displayed on the right sleeve with the 50 stars in a field of blue resting closest to the heart.
“We’re the biggest and best team that the nation has going for it, and it’s an honor and privilege to wear that flag on our sleeve,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Beard, senior noncommissioned officer at 1st Brigade, Cadet Command. “It represents who we are, and what we’re about.”
Having arrived to Fort Knox last month from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Beard joined Davis and four other Soldiers in the Cantigny Warrior Restaurant at lunchtime to cut the installation birthday cake.
Joining Beard to cut the cake was Pfc. Alexcia Hudson, a combat engineer from 19th Engineer Battalion. She joined the Army two years ago, when she was 17.
“This means a lot to know that the Army has been around for so long, fighting for our country,” said Hudson. “And I am proud to serve my country here.”
Some of those who had participated in the morning run acknowledged that the cool air in the dining facility was a welcome change. Beard said it was a bit different from temperatures in Alaska.
“I guess summer came on the weekend,” said Beard, “and nobody told me it was going to happen.”
Davis acknowledged it, too.
“We had a great 5K run this morning. Who was all there?” asked Davis. Several hands raised. “It was a little warm out there, right?’”
Davis said rain or shine, however, the Army remains vigilant 24/7 to defend the nation.
“The Army is one of our oldest institutions in the United States, and for 247 years this great Army has answered the call,” said Davis. “We’re all a part of that; every single one of you.
"Whether you’re a Soldier, civilian, Family member or contractor supporting the United States Army, you’re part of this wonderful Family.”
Editor's Note: Visit the Fort Knox official Flickr page for more photos.