Fort Belvoir celebrates Army birthday with a ceremony, speeches, cake

 Fort Belvoir Garrison celebrated the Army’s 244th Birthday, last week, at its annual observance in Thurman Auditorium, Humphreys Hall, Fort Belvoir. Col. Michael Greenberg, garrison commander, said the birthday is a very important day for the Army and the nation. 

“We are unique in history, because our Army is older than the country we serve and older than all of our sister services,” he said. 

He then detailed some early Army history, by saying it started as separate militias. “American volunteers were equipped, armed, paid for and supported by Colonies from which they were raised,” Greenberg said. “Eventually, the Continental Army transformed itself from a group of undisciplined patriots to a professional, disciplined Army with its own identity.” 

The Army learned and grew in the 19th and 20th centuries and transformed into a modern Army during both World Wars, he said. 

“For centuries, American Soldiers have honored the call to service, they continue serving today and form the Army’s future,” Greenberg said. “It’s important, especially on the Army’s 

Birthday and Flag Day, to recognize our history, as we forge together toward the future.” 

“Wearing the flag on my shoulder represents, to me, honor, privilege and freedom. We serve selflessly, staying humble and defending freedom,” Greenberg said. 

Lt. Gen. Darcie Rogers, deputy director at Fort Belvoir’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, was guest speaker for the celebration. 

“The Army moves with a purpose. From the earliest days of the Revolution to present day, our Army has answered the call and fought for the freedoms all Americans hold dear,” Rogers said. 

“But, one of our hardest fights was in World War II, when we joined the Allies to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France,” Rogers said. “D-Day was 75 years ago this month and, as we mark the 244th year of the United States Army, we also recognize and celebrate our victory on D-Day. 

“As you know from history, D-Day began June 6, 1944. With 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landing on the Normandy beaches, it was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history … more than 5,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft,” he said. 

“It involved months of planning, deceiving the enemy and bringing in vast amounts of supplies to support the invasion. It started at dawn June 6 and the entire operation ended August 25, when the allies reached the Seine River and liberated Paris,” Rogers said, adding the initial assault was a make-or-break event. 

“General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the troops, sent out an order to the troops on the morning of June 6 saying: “I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.” 

“But, as we know, full victory is never guaranteed,” Rogers added. 

“He also drafted two statements for the end of the day … one saying D-Day was a success, the other accepting full responsibility for failure. 

“Historians may be divided on what the immediate effects of a failure would have been, but they all agree that, without victory, the war could have lasted years longer,” he said. “By D-Day, the British army was depleted. Cities across Britain and Europe were destroyed or heavily damaged from the Luftwaffe bombing raids. Starvation and depravation were a part of daily life for many Europeans. D-Day provided a needed turning point in the war. 

“Now, Allied victory looked more certain and, almost a year later, the Nazis unconditionally surrendered,” he said. 

“Your United States Army played a significant role in D-Day, just as we have played a significant role in all our armed conflicts around the world and throughout history,” Rogers said. “The Army is the world’s most lethal ground combat force in history. We stand ready today to deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars and we continue to evolve and change to deter and, if necessary, defeat those who would threaten the homeland, our global interests or our partners and friends. 

“As we gather today, more than 180,000 Soldiers are serving worldwide, continuing the fight for our nation’s freedom and protecting our way of life. They are America’s Army, and they honor the call to service,” he said. 

“Our Army’s Soldiers and civilians … our people … are the Army’s most valuable commodity. The men and women who come to us from across the nation, from every walk of life, from every religious and ethnic background, are the best our nation has to offer,” Rogers said. 

“And, today, they continue to selflessly serve, just as the Soldiers who answered the call to serve in World War Two did. And, they carry on an important, hard-fought legacy, one of service and commitment, paid for in blood and sacrifice.” 

Rogers added that it’s equally important that we admire and respect the heroes of D-Day, and honor today’s Soldiers.