WASHINGTON, July 27, 2011 -- The Walter Reed Army Medical Center colors will be cased today at 10 a.m. on the parade field in front of the Heaton Pavilion.

A flag casing ceremony is a formal event where the colors, or flag, of the unit are taken down and put into a protective covering (sometimes a glass case, sometimes rolled up, etc). The colors casing ceremony symbolically signifies the end of the unit.

The casing of the WRAMC colors marks the next step in WRAMC’s transition to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda in Maryland, and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. The ceremony will “celebrate the history of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the transition into the next century of warrior care,” according to event organizer Natasha Hewlett.

Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, commanding general, Northern Regional Medical Command and WRAMC, will host the ceremony, which will also include a number of distinguished guest speakers, according to Hewlett . The ceremony will also include the uncasing of the new Army element colors for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, or WRNMMC Bethesda, and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital facilities.

Hawley-Bowland will also pass Maj. Walter Reed’s saber, used at many Walter Reed ceremonies, to Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan, commander of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, future home to the new Walter Reed.

Walter Reed General Hospital was named in honor of Army physician Maj. Walter Reed, noted for his efforts in helping to discover that mosquitoes transmit yellow fever. Walter Reed opened its doors to its first 10 patients May 1, 1909. It was founded on the principles that would integrate patient care, teaching and research.

Lt. Col. William C. Borden, a friend and colleague of Reed, was a key planner behind the formation of the hospital, with a vision it would become a the world-renowned medical center for exceptional health care, teaching and research.

In September 1951, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maj. Walter Reed, Walter Reed General Hospital was renamed Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The years between its opening and renaming witnessed the increase in patients, staff and facilities on the campus.

Through the years, WRAMC added tenant institutions and facilities to its roster, including Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Army Physical Disability Agency, and several smaller units, but it never lost focus of its primary mission of providing every patient with the finest health care.

May 13, 2005, it was announced WRAMC’s resources and staff would be realigned to help form WRNMMC and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital by Sept. 15, 2011, as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law. Patients will be moved in August 2011.