By Jacqueline M. HamesApril 23, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 23, 2008) - On the 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve, 100 Soldiers representing every state in the union re-enlisted during a ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol Building.
Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Army Reserve chief and commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, administered the oath of re-enlistment at 10 a.m., signing a ceremonial document representing the commitment between the Soldiers and the state.
"What we are doing today is a testament to the greatness of this nation. What you have before you are 100 heroes," Stultz said, addressing the crowd. "They represent the fabric of this nation; they are the next great generation."
Stutlz thanked the Soldiers for their service and Families for the support they provide. The Soldiers would not be willing to re-enlist without encouragement and love from Family and friends, he said. Stultz also thanked the civilian employers for providing job flexibility to the Soldiers and support for the Families of the deployed.
After the oath of re-enlistment was administered, each Soldier was called to the stage to receive a certificate and coin from Stultz and shake hands with Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Caffie to mark the occasion.
The Army Reserve was formed by Congress on April 23, 1908, as the Medical Reserve Corp. The group of 160 doctors served as a reservoir of trained professionals to deploy during times of emergency.
That original force has grown to encompass about 195,000 specialized and professional Soldiers, Maj. Gen. Mari K. Elder, deputy chief of the Army Reserve, said.
Eder mingled with the crowd before and after the ceremony.
"It's a great day to be a Soldier," Eder said, "to have all of this come together to honor these Soldiers. They will never forget this. To be part of this is to be part of history."
This year was the third year the ceremony was held on the Capitol lawn, and the second reenlistment of the year. In January, another set of 100 Soldiers re-enlisted during a ceremony in Baghdad to kick off the 100th year of service for the Army Reserve.
Having 100 Soldiers representing every state was the "right number to strike the symbolic note," Eder explained. Each Soldier brought friends and family to the event.
"This is the Army Reserve family you see here today," she said.
The day was doubly special for one Soldier. Staff Sgt. Shawnda Bass was reunited with her recruiter, Retired Sgt. 1st Class Clifton Magwood, just before the ceremony.
Bass led a troubled youth and took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test one day instead of going to class. She scored very well, and Magwood persisted in convincing her to join. Bass attributes her success in life to the persistence of Magwood and others like him.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Bass was "honored to be selected for the ceremony." It made her proud to take the oath while looking down across the National Mall, she said.
A wreath-laying ceremony was scheduled to take place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery later in the day to honor the sacrifices Reserve Soldiers have made; and a tree-planting ceremony will be held to honor current Soldiers. Later in the evening, there will be a gala ball to celebrate the Reserve's 100th Anniversary.