Today, June 14th, on large and small U.S. Army posts around the world, active duty troops, and their families and friends will — through official ceremonies and in smaller informal gatherings — observe, wherever circumstances permit, the 236th Anniversary of the founding of the oldest of America’s military branches, the United States Army.

Interestingly, although the modern U.S. Army traces its roots back to 1775 and the Revolutionary War, the Army was not officially established by the Colonial Congress of Confederation until June 14, 1784; moreover, the fledgling Republic was not legally empowered to maintain a ‘regular’, standing army until the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1787.

The U.S. Army, like the country it serves, has undergone a number of profound changes since its founding 236 years ago. The size of the Army during the first years of the American Republic was small; there were two reasons for this: first, the citizens of the new democracy were mistrustful of large standing armies and, more importantly, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were formidable barriers to European meddling in the affairs of the New World. However, history inexorably marches on; not surprisingly, the world and the American Army’s role in that world have both changed dramatically since 1775. Today, the now all-volunteer U.S. Army totals nearly 550,000 officers and enlisted soldiers, of which almost 74,000 are female; furthermore, it is presently supported in its many far-flung and often remote outposts by the more than 240,000 civilian employees of the Department of the Army. One thing about the Army, however, has not changed: its many diverse, present-day missions are still difficult, often dangerous, and always critical to maintaining the security of the American people back home.

Of course, personally being a veteran of the U.S. Army, I am doubtless a little prejudiced on its behalf. Nonetheless, on this the day of the Army’s 236th Anniversary, I think that it is again worthwhile to remember that on hundreds of battlefields — from Saratoga to Gettysburg; from Omaha Beach to Mosul — American soldiers have fought, and many have died, to secure the blessings of liberty for their own countrymen and, oftentimes, even for other peoples whose languages and customs they did not understand. Thus, because of the countless sacrifices of its soldiers over the years and because of the great good that the American Army has striven to accomplish throughout its history, I salute both the institution of the Army and all those who have worn its uniform, both past and present.


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