FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (June 16, 2011) -- Soldiers, civilians and Fort Meade community members celebrated both the Army's 236th birthday and Flag Day on June 14 with breakfast, cake and camaraderie at Club Meade.

More than 300 people attended the annual event sponsored by the Association of the United States Army.

"It's really heartwarming to see so many members of the Fort Meade community here today," Installation Commander Col. Daniel L. Thomas said. "What a great day to get together."

At the start of the program, a Defense Information School color guard posted the colors.

Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, commanding general of First Army Division East, served as guest speaker.

Wendel cut the Army Birthday cake with retired Lt. Col. Alfred Shehab, 91, a World War II veteran of the Battle of the Bulge; retired Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Deporto, 90, a veteran of World War II, Vietnam and Korea; and Spc. Chad Davis, of Headquarters Command Battalion, representing Fort Meade's youngest Soldier.

During his speech, Wendel credited the men and women who make up the military with its success over the years.

Despite its continuing evolution, the Army continues to be "a brotherhood; a group of people who still stand up and serve," Wendel said. "Their tremendous capabilities and sense of community brings the Army together as a profession of arms. When you reflect on our history, it's extraordinary -- 236 years ago the Army was only about 10 companies of volunteers."

Today, more than one million Soldiers serve around the world.

"One percent of our nation serves in uniform, but it's an extraordinary 1 percent," Wendel said.

Wendel went on to explain that while it is very important for Soldiers to know and understand their past and how the Army originated, it is also important to know and understand where it is headed and to contribute to its growth.

"Get involved at whatever level you can," Wendel said. "This Army is an Army of ideas, and great ideas start at the Soldier level."

While the Army paused June 14 to take stock of its past, Wendel urged everyone to stop and think about the Army and veterans every day.

"Find a vet and shake their hand," he said. "Thank them for their service and thank their families."