By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleFebruary 23, 2012
The military has a long tradition of working with the civilian community through war and peace.
Fort Belvoir and several other branches commemorated this historical bond during the Armed Forces Community Covenant signing Monday.
The ceremony, sponsored by the Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance, occurred during the 280th George Washington Birthday Celebration in Alexandria, Va.
Families, businessmen, politicians, vendors and Soldiers filled Alexandria's Market Square to hear community leaders speak about the partnership between the military and civilians.
"The strength of our military today is the American people who stand behind us and our mutual support is clearly represented by this covenant signing today," said Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capitol Region/Military District of Washington commander.
Linnington traced the community's support of the armed forces back to the Revolutionary War, where civilians provided American Soldiers food, shelter, equipment, medical care and moral support.
The general sees parallels between this historic practice and the endeavors of present-day civilians who assist servicemembers with employment, Family, communication and educational support.
"I would contend that not much has changed today as our communities do indeed provide the wind beneath the wings of many of our deployed servicemembers and their Families," Linnington said.
Linnington shared speaking time with Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. John Strycula; Marine Corps Base Quantico Chief of Staff Col. Roarke Anderson; Naval Support Activity Washington Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Varner and several civilian community members.
Each speaker touched on various benefits of the partnership between the military and surrounding area.
Strycula stressed that the entertainment and health services the community provides brings comfort to military Families, which enables Soldiers to fulfill their duties without worrying about home.
"Events like today remind our armed forces and their Families that the communities that they have pledge to defend are behind them," Strycula said.
Anderson, who spoke on behalf of Quantico base Commander Col. Daniel Choike, said Quantico's longevity is tied to the community understanding the importance of base missions such as live fire training.
"The more you understand what we do the longer we can preserve that mission," Anderson said. "It's tremendous what the community does for us not only here but overseas as well."
Anderson said the event symbolized the progressive improvement in how the community treats and honors servicemembers during the last 40 years.
Supervisor Marty Nohe, Prince William County Board of Supervisors vice chairman and Northern Virginia Regional Commission chairman, agreed with the sentiments of Quantico's Chief of Staff.
Nohe, who was born at Belvoir, said the military and civilian community appeared to operate in two different worlds as he grew up in the area.
The supervisor believes initiatives that impacted everyone in the Northern Virginia such as the Base Realignment and Closure Act showed the economic value both sides possessed.
Nohe said attributes much of Northern Virginia's economic growth to military bases that have created jobs and added more consumers to the region.
Nohe used his children to symbolize the mutual understanding that has grown between civilians and the military.
His Family lives close to Quantico and his children say "sounds of freedom" whenever they hear the live fire training exercises.
Each military leader signed the covenant along with community business and political leaders at the conclusion of the ceremony. Community members signed a guest book in honor of the celebration.
The covenant was part of the climax to Alexandria's celebration of George Washington's birthday.
The city's month-long festivities included tours of historic facilities, swordplay, a 10-K race, food tasting and a revolutionary war reenactment.
The covenant signing served as a prelude to the Washington birthday parade, which is the largest celebration of Washington.
Policemen, children, and goodwill organizations all participated in the march through Old Town Alexandria.
Belvoir's Advanced Individual Training Soldiers from Echo Company, 169th Engineer Battalion, and the Marine Corps Marching Band also supported the community in the parade.