Army Celebrates 230 Years of Defending Liberty
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 14, 2005 After 230 years, the one thing a soldier of 1775 and one today have had in common is the desire to fight and protect the United States.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, center, joins Army SecretaryFrancis Harvey, third from left; Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, second from right; Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston; and the youngest and oldest soldiers in the Military District of Washington in cutting the Army's birthday cake at a Pentagon ceremony to celebrate the Army's 230th birthday, June 14. Photo by Staff Sgt. Carmen Burgess, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld praised soldiers today serving the United States and said the "Army's story is America's story."
Rumsfeld, Army Secretary Francis Harvey, Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker and Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Kenneth O. Preston presided at a Pentagon ceremony marking the Army's birthday. On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress approved legislation calling for the United States to raise 10 companies of infantry - about 1,000 soldiers. Today the U.S. Army has more than 488,000 soldiers on active duty, with 193,000 members of the Army Reserve and 330,000 National Guardsmen.
Today, one soldier surpasses the firepower of that first regiment. "Today, the Army stands as one of the greatest institutions in the world, the pre-eminent land power on Earth and the ultimate instrument of national resolve," Harvey said.
Throughout history "our soldiers have displayed unmatched courage, commitment and willingness to sacrifice to achieve any mission," Schoomaker said. "They serve with incredible honor and distinction. They understood ... that our Constitution and the freedom it guarantees are worth fighting for."
The Army has changed with the times. Rumsfeld praised the service for efforts to make itself more flexible and more innovative as it tackles future challenges.
Rumsfeld said the Army has served nobly in the struggle against violent extremists. He noted Army Rangers parachuted into Kandahar early in Operation Enduring Freedom. The Army's 3rd Infantry Division made the famed Thunder Runs into Baghdad in April 2003. And soldiers who have "launched offensives against the violent extremists who killed 3,000 innocent men, women and children on Sept. 11, 2001."
Soldiers, though, are more than just warriors, the secretary said. Army personnel serve as "diplomats" and "peacekeepers" as well. "And with every new challenge, (soldiers) have demonstrated their ability to rise to the occasion," he said.
Following the speeches, Schoomaker enlisted 28 recruits from the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion. The oldest and youngest soldiers in the U.S. Army Military District of Washington cut a cake in honor of the birthday. And the assembled crowd together sang "Happy Birthday" to the U.S. Army.
Army figures show there are 256,000 soldiers deployed overseas in a number of capacities. There are 114,000 soldiers in Iraq, 15,000 in Afghanistan, 26,000 in Korea, 1,400 in Kosovo and 700 soldiers in the Sinai.