FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Protecting America 24/7 for 247 years was the theme for this year’s Army birthday, which Fort Meade celebrated on June 14, with the Army Heritage Observance at Club Meade.
The U.S. Army Field Band hosted the celebration, complete with musical performances throughout the event by the band’s HooahCappella, Soldier's Chorus and Woodwind Quintet.
A display showcasing the history of the Army was set up beneath a panoramic photo of the Tank Corps at Fort Meade in 1920. In the photo are two young officers named Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, signifying the fort’s own rich history and impact on the Army and the nation.
Joint Task Force – National Capital Region and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Allan Pepin served as the guest speaker and gave a nod to that rich history and acknowledged that the Army’s mission is made possible by the people.
“When each of us puts forth our best effort every day you strengthen our units, our Army and our nation,” said Pepin, who ended his remarks with “People first, winning matters, Army Strong!”
Honoring the Greatest Generation
Fort Meade recognized Mr. William Keyes, a World War II veteran, for his lifetime of service with a certificate of recognition.
Mr. Keyes, who is 101 years old, was drafted into the Army in 1944 and was a member of the 761st Tank Battalion, historically known as Patton’s Panthers, at Battle of the Bulge.
Keyes himself has a Fort Meade connection as it is where he was discharged from service.
Fort Meade Garrison Commander Col. Christopher Nyland presented Keyes with a Certificate of Achievement and a challenge coin.
Outside of his time in a military uniform, Keyes spent more than 50 years working in public schools in Washington D.C. and in Anne Arundel County at South River High School.
Following his recognition, Keyes helped himself to the microphone to say a few words to the audience.
“I am glad to be here to honor you and the wonderful brave men who died before us and those who are still dying,” Keyes said. “We should pay attention to those who have come back from the different wars.”
Col. Nyland addressed attendees reminding them of the oath and the importance of not only defending the constitution but supporting it as well.
“For nearly every single person in this room, at one time in your life or another you swore an oath, and that oath is often misquoted,” said Nyland. “You hear a lot of people talk about protect and defend the constitution and that isn’t the oath. The oath is ‘support and defend’. We spend so much time talking about the defend portion of our lives, I don’t think we spend enough time talking about the support piece.”
Honoring Army traditions
The event closed out with a few special Army traditions.
Col. Nyland and Maj. Gen. Pepin were joined by Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Emerson Byrd and Private Andrew Quemado, the oldest and youngest soldiers in attendance, to cut the cake with a ceremonial sword, symbolizing the wisdom and the future of the Army.
Once the cake was cut, the room rang out is the singing of the Army Song followed by a buffet featuring some of the most popular Meal, Ready-to-Eat, more commonly known among service members as an MRE.
MREs are individually packaged, self-contained meals designed to provide nutrition and sustenance to service members in the field and come in distinct brown packaging.
For more on Fort Meade's history and upcoming events visit home.army.mil/meade