Army Marks 234 Years of Service, Sacrifice

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2009 - Citing the organization's long history of selfless service and sacrifice, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III helped to commemorate the Army's 234th birthday today at a Pentagon ceremony.

The U.S. Army officially celebrates its birthday June 14.

"This occasion marks the 234th year that ordinary men and women have become extraordinary citizens by answering the call of duty and placing the country in front of themselves," Lynn said to an audience of soldiers and other servicemembers in the Pentagon courtyard. "I'm humbled by this long tradition of service, reaching back even to the founding of our nation."

The Army tradition is expressed in a number of ways, he said, including in the actions and service of individual families.

Lynn recognized the Simpson family of Tennessee, whose generations of military service span nearly 100 years. Simpson family members served in Mexico, during World War II, in Vietnam and now in Afghanistan, he said.

"It's this kind of service and dedication that's the hallmark of the United States Army," he added.

Lynn also acknowledged the Army as the world's most formidable fighting force, and he credited family support as the dynamic that makes the Army such a strong, dependable organization. The Army couldn't be the institution it is without the families, he said.

"Our soldiers, of course, do not bear the burdens of combat alone," he continued. "When they sign up, they're also volunteering their families. Army families are a constant source of support and inspiration, and in many ways, they're the reasons our soldiers continue to serve."

Today's commemoration and cake cutting marks the start of a weeklong list of birthday activities all across the Army. The Army will hold its annual birthday ball here tomorrow, and on June 14, Army leadership will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Also, individual Army posts will celebrate with 10-mile birthday runs.

This year is Army Secretary Pete Geren's final Army birthday celebration as the service's top official. It's important, he said, to take the time to reflect on the importance and the impact the U.S. Army has had on the history of the world.

"It's important for an organization such as ours ... to stop and reflect on its proud history," Geren said. "It's important to stop and think how different the history of the United States [and] the history of the world would be without the United States Army."

Geren cited the importance of remembering the sacrifice made by previous generations of soldiers and military members. The battlefields may be different throughout time, he said, but the sacrifice is the same.

"Reflect on those who fought in Desert Storm and ... those soldiers who stood all those years ago at Lexington and Concord," he said. "Reflect on that wife, that husband who's waiting home today for their loved ones to return, [because] they are living the same experiences and emotions a wife was living when her husband [or] her son faced down the British troops at Lexington and Concord.

"As we enjoy this week and blow out those candles and sing happy birthday," he continued, "it's so important to stop and think about what our soldiers have done. Think about how different today the world would be if it were not for the soldiers and families of the United States Army."

Army Marks 234 Years of Service, Sacrifice [ ]