By Connor Wolanski, Army Flier Contributing WriterJune 28, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 28, 2012) -- The Association of the United States Army celebrated the Army's 237th birthday with a luncheon, cake-cutting ceremony and the installation of new local chapter officers June 20 at The Landing.
Close to 250 people were in attendance for a ceremony that saw Fort Rucker's oldest Soldier, retired Col. Sheldon Bailey, 91, share cake-cutting duties with the youngest Soldier on post, 19-year-old Pfc. Tyler Rundel.
"For the last 237 years … the Army has been in existence, and you've never failed to answer our nation's call," said Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh in a pre-recorded video specifically highlighting Fort Rucker as the home of Army Aviation. "Today, you continue to answer the call, and regardless of the capacity in which you serve, your contributions and commitment to our Army and Navy will endure, as they have in the past."
"[The Army is] the source, the continuing thing, that keeps this American constitution alive," said Bailey, adding that all young Soldiers form a bond of brotherhood founded in discipline and a shared belief in this nation's guiding principles.
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and the luncheon's primary speaker, emphasized how the strength of the Army has as its source the devotion of America's Families and civilian population.
"The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our Soldiers, and the strength of our Soldiers is our Families," said Crutchfield. "Our Army Family not only includes our Soldiers and our Family members, but it also includes our civilians. Civilians have served alongside Soldiers since the Army was formed."
Crutchfield also stressed that although it "isn't in [a Soldier's] DNA" to point out his or her own accomplishments, it is important for the Army story to be told.
"We have the best-equipped, best-trained, and best-led Army in history … and each [Soldier] volunteered to be here," said Crutchfield. "That's less than 1 percent of our country's population. That less than 1 percent volunteered to serve in a time of war -- you are special."
While the Army's birthday was the main theme at the luncheon, the AUSA also performed the installation of new officers for the local chapter, including the induction of Phillip Tidwell as new chapter president.
"They are the very heart and soul of this organization," said Joe Fitzgerald, Alabama state AUSA president. "They speak out for the Army at times when the Army cannot properly speak out for itself."
"I wish you all knew how hard the people of this community work for us," said Crutchfield. "I'm fortunate enough to see what they do. I know that I've never seen another AUSA chapter as active as this, and I have never seen one that had the most active community support that this chapter has. I've never seen it."