JUNE 14, 2019, FORT BELVOIR, VA – The U.S. Army Garrison located at Fort Belvoir marked the Army’s 244th birthday on June 13, 2019 in grand style. The celebratory event was held in Thurman Auditorium, with civic and political leaders and Fort Belvoir’s tenant organization leadership among the guests and invitees.
The celebration featured the traditional birthday cake cutting and music was provided by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet, a specialized sector of the United States Army Band. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Deputy Director, Army Lieutenant General Darsie Rogers, was the keynote speaker, highlighting the history of the U.S. Army’s birthday and correlating the event with the D-Day 75th Anniversary.
“It is with great admiration and respect that we honor the heroes of D-Day and it is equally important that we honor today’s Soldiers,” said LTG Rogers. “While today’s battlefield and mission are different than when we started out 244 years ago, the importance of what we do is not.”
Lieutenant General Rogers also shared sobering statistics during his remarks.
“The Army – including the Army Reserve and National Guard – comprises 49% of the total DoD force, but has sustained more than 70% of combat deaths.” said Rogers. “This is a tough business. I know, because I’ve commanded them in combat and personally buried more than a dozen of our fallen heroes.”
The theme for the Army’s 244th Birthday is “America’s Army: Honoring the call to Service from D-Day to Today.” This represents a dual commemoration that links today’s U.S. Army with the anniversary of D-Day. Since its existence and in every major campaign fought, the U.S. Army has lost thousands of Soldiers. After the Normandy landings, official casualty sources estimated U.S. military personnel battle deaths at nearly 15 million by the end of World War II. According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, the U.S. Army has the highest number of U.S. military casualties in the current Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Rogers emphasized the significance of the missions Soldiers on today’s battlefield carry out and how these men and women are the backbone of the service – just as they were on D-Day.
“Our Army is the guardian of our freedom and liberty. The men and women of our Army never asked to be called anything other than “Soldier” or “Army Civilian,” but to me they are heroes,” the general added.
The U.S. Army was founded on June 14, 1775, and remains the oldest and longest serving branch of the military in the United States. Each year, the U.S. Army celebrates its birthday with special ceremonies and customs.
Story by Melissa Tune
Defense Threat Reduction Agency