Office of the Chief of Public Affairs
Headquarters, Department of the Army
As we celebrate our Army’s birthday — the 242nd — it is fitting that we share this day with another observance across our nation: Flag Day, a milestone decision with the adoption of the Stars and Stripes two years later in 1777.
During those early years at the birth of our nation, our fledging Army was a ragtag formation of patriots who challenged the might of the strongest military on the globe to secure our nation’s freedom.
Today, that force has transformed into the best trained, best led and most experienced force in the world. The Army colors have 189 campaign streamers marking battles from the Revolutionary War to today’s War on Terror.
Today, close to 184,000 Soldiers are in 140 different countries continuing the fight for our country’s freedom and protection.
Our Army has come a long way in 242 years since its founding. Our mission is to deter conflict through our lethality, and when called, win our nation’s wars decisively with the most precious commodity our nation has to offer — its sons and daughters.
While every Army birthday is important to us, as an institution, this year is especially significant as we mark 100 years, beginning April 6, 1917, when the United States joined the fight in World War I.
Under the command of Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, more than two million of our Soldiers fought on battlefields across Europe.
Just as the Continental Army secured the freedom of our nation, the doughboys of World War I secured the freedom of Europe, and our nation’s place in the world.
Given this important milestone, it is appropriate that this year’s Army Birthday theme is “Over there! A Celebration of the WWI Soldier.”
The professionalism of the Soldier and civilian in the Army’s ranks would expand from their experiences fighting as the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. They would give rise to the leaders who would see the country through World War II and, in turn, become household names —Patton, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Marshall — who would shape not only our Army, but America’s worldwide military posture for decades to come.
As we were a century ago, the Army is still “over there.” The Army’s forward presence and stationing builds partner capacity, assures our Allies and deters aggressors.
Today, too, the American Soldier trains and deploys, engages and destroys the enemies of the United States in combat operations as the world’s premier land force.
A total Army force of regular Army, Army Reserve, National Guard Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians stands ready to defend this great nation.
The character of our Army, as a force of citizen Soldiers under civilian control, rests on the traditions established by Gen. George Washington, who said: “When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.”
During the last 242 years, the Army and its Soldiers and civilian counterparts have served with distinction and honor throughout our nation’s struggles, fighting for and defending our freedom in wars and conflicts from the American Revolution through the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, Operations Desert Shield and Storm, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the defeat of ISIS in Syria.
With all of the missions the Army can be called on to accomplish, it is imperative that it be ready when the nation calls.
Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, said that readiness is the top priority for the Army.
“We must ensure the Army remains ready as the world’s premier combat force. Readiness is, and will remain, the U. S. Army’s No. 1 priority,” he said.
Fort Meade celebrates its 100th year having evolved from “saddles to cyberspace” during a century of innovation and security, said Fort Meade officials.
Now portrayed as the nation’s center for information, intelligence and cyber operat ions, Fort Meade officially opened Sept. 19, 1917 as the “Camp Meade” cantonment area.
Meade’s major commemorative event takes place June 17 at Club Meade when, together with community leaders across the area, service members and Army civilians gather to show tribute to the past, present and future of Maryland’s largest single employer.
Happy 242nd birthday United States Army! And, happy 100th birthday Fort George G. Meade, Maryland!