By Staff Sgt. Kenneth Foss, 1st Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC June 21, 2012
MANHATTAN -- As of Thursday, 237 years have passed since the organizing of the world's greatest fighting force for good, the U.S. Army. June 14, 1775, marked the birth of America's Army.
Times Square hosted the official location to celebrate the Army's 237th birthday with Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, 38th chief of staff of the Army, as the distinguished guest, along with many more in attendance.
Members from the 10th Mountain Division (LI), the Army's Parachute Team "Golden Knights," New York City Recruiting Battalion Soldiers and thousands of on-lookers convened to join in celebrating the Army's birthday.
"The Army has stood strong for 237 years; more importantly, America's public has stood strong along side of us," said Lt. Col. Richard Davis, New York City Recruiting Battalion commander. "What this is about today is bringing the Army and the celebration of the Army back to the American public, bringing it back to the communities that we serve every day."
The strength of the nation is the Army, the strength of the Army is its Soldiers, and the strength of the Soldiers is its Family and community members. Without the support of the American people, the Army would not be able to perform as exceptionally as it does while serving in many locations throughout the world. That theme was repeated during the birthday celebration.
"Today, America's Army is engaged in nearly 150 countries around the world, on six of seven continents, with over 94,000 Soldiers deployed today and 94,000 forward stationed," Odierno said. "Our nation depends on its Army to defend the shores of our homeland to defeat enemy forces abroad and help with recovery efforts in the wake of natural disasters."
Odierno not only gave a compelling speech, but he also enlisted 16 men and woman into the Army. In addition, he took part in a cake-cutting, as he and the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the attendance held a saber together to cut through the massive tank-shaped cake.
When it comes to cake-making, perhaps no one does it better than Buddy Valastro, master baker of Carlo's City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J. Valastro is well-known throughout the country for his television show, "Cake Boss."
Buddy and his team constructed the tank-shaped cake to be more than three feet tall with a moving turret set atop -- an above-and-beyond cake for an above-and-beyond Army.
During the week, Army units were involved in community outreach events throughout New York City.
"We want to make sure there is no disconnect between the American community and their Army," said Maj. Charles Jaquillard, executive office for the New York City Recruiting Battalion. "It's important to know who their Soldiers are and better relate to them, to hear their stories, hear what the Army experience is like and get to know them a little better."
The thousands of Americans in attendance wasted no time in showing their appreciation to Soldiers for their dedicated service, and they were very involved in celebrating alongside the service members.
"It's always great to be appreciated, and I'll tell you, New York City does a great job at that," Jaquillard said.
Although Times Square was the focal point of the celebration, many other places throughout New York and Army units across the country and deployed units in Afghanistan joined in celebration on this monumental occasion.
"We are having demonstrations all over New York City where everybody is having fun and getting involved with the community," said Sgt. 1st Class Cesar S. Sanchez, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "We are here to work for them and fight for them."
The sacrifices made by U.S. Soldiers are not left unappreciated. Days like this stir the strong sense of pride this nation's people have for the troops as well as pride continuously displayed by Army leaders.
"I'm proud of your accomplishments, your sacrifice and your selfless dedication to our Army and to the nation," Odierno said.