The first battles of the Revolutionary War in April of 1775 were fought by independent militias. Two months later, in June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress authorized the formation of a new, united force – the Continental Army.
On June 14, the United States Army will celebrate 241 years of service. It’s quite a legacy; Army balls, parades, and celebrations are all part of the pomp and circumstance that link today’s service members and families with Army veterans of the past. How do we celebrate the Army's birthday? By honoring the past. Each year as the Army celebrates another year of doing its part to protect the country, they look to the past and recognize the sacrifices of those who have come before. In Washington, D.C., the acknowledgment will include a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Through symbolism and tradition. At cake cutting ceremonies at both the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, a time-honored tradition takes place. The highest and lowest ranking members in attendance cut the cake together with an Army saber—which serves as a reminder that the Army is a band of warriors, committed to carrying the sword at every turn. For those sitting or standing near the cake, be cautious if the cake cutters are especially enthusiastic. Flying icing and broken tables are both known casualties of cake cutting show-offs.
With a show of unity. Across the world, formation runs will take place. Units will form up on parade fields shortly after dawn carrying their unit colors, and cadences will spread through the early morning as the formation runs through the installation before heading to work for the day.
By reflecting on a legacy. Celebrations will crescendo with the Army Birthday Ball at the Washington Hilton Hotel on June 18th, although local balls will be held at many installations. At the Army Birthday Ball, the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Army Drill Team, and The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps will entertain diners before remarks from senior Army leaders. All current and retired members of the US Army, and Army civilians are able to participate in the Army Birthday Ball.
The Army’s birthday is marked on the day that Second Continental Congress authorized the Continental Army – a force formed by approximately 22,000 militiamen who were already gathered outside of Boston. In the first official U.S. Army instance of “hurry up and wait,” the now-official Army waited three weeks for nominated commander George Washington to formally take command on July 3, 1775.
How will you celebrate? Although many Army installations don’t offer the service wide celebration that the Marine Corps does, it offers an opportunity to take a moment and recognize the long-standing history and tradition that lies behind our service members. The pomp and circumstance, the parades, the toasts we repeat at each formal event, running cadences, and unit colors are part of a tapestry that has been 241 years in the making.
On June 14th, I’ll help my 6 year see the history as we take a walk through a local museum and check out the displayed vehicles on post. There are plenty of pieces of military life that I’m perfectly willing to say no to, but a little pomp & circumstance on the Army’s 241st birthday is worth our time.