By Benjamin Abel/Special to the ParaglideJune 22, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. - Soldiers from Fort Bragg didn't wait for the party to come to them, but rather took the celebration of the Army's 237th birthday to the people of Raleigh and Durham, N.C., June 14.
Two dozen Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade and 20th Engineer Brigade, descended on the North Carolina capital with two messages for the thousands of citizens they met -- the Army is proud to celebrate its birthday and thank you for supporting the men and women who serve in the nation's oldest military branch.
The Fort Bragg Soldiers began the day with a visit to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts to have lunch with four city council members from the City of Raleigh including retired Army special operations colonel, Randall Stagner, who welcomed the Fort Bragg Soldiers, to what he described as "very much a military friendly town."
"I've got to admit," Stagner said, "I still spend a lot of time down your way. The best thing about my job jumping out of perfectly good airplanes was not so much putting my foot out the door (of an aircraft), as it was being around folks who liked putting their foot out of that door."
The the other council members included Eugene Weeks, John Odom and Russ Stephenson, all of whom have strong ties to the U.S. military.
John Odom, who represents Raleigh's District B, is a Vietnam veteran who was injured in combat. Odom said the connection that the public has with its military is much better than when he returned from his war.
"We didn't have these kinds of celebrations for our Soldiers like we do today, which I think is wonderful," Odom said.
Following lunch, the Soldiers proceeded to Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, a government, business and shopping area to hand out small American flags and remind passersby that June 14 is the Army's birthday as well as Flag Day.
"It was a great surprise and a great opportunity to thank our servicemen for their contributions," said Christi Quance, a resident of Elizabeth City, N.C., who was visiting Raleigh.
Soldiers later split into two groups and traveled to two area shopping malls to hand out more flags, shake hands with shoppers and thank each for their support of the Army.
"It was great to get the chance to thank people for their support for the military. So often they come up to us in uniform and express their gratitude for our service and it was nice to express our appreciation for their support," said 1st Lt. Meara O'Hara, 44th Medical Brigade.