June 14, 2021 marks the 246th birthday of the U.S. Army — the military branch that is largely responsible for our independence from Britain and that has served and defended American freedom since the birth of our nation.
On June 14, 1775, while under immense threat from the British military forces, the U.S. Congress ordered “six companies of expert riflemen be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia” to join American revolutionary forces in and around Boston, Massachusetts.
The U.S. delegates that ordered additional forces to Boston required all of these men to swear an oath of service:
“I have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself, as a soldier, in the American continental army, for one year, unless sooner discharged: And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army.”
Shortly after American delegates issued these orders, George Washington was appointed to command the American Continental Army. With support from the French Army, Washington led the American Continental Army to victory over the British forces, claiming freedom for the future of hundreds of millions of Americans.
U.S. Army Celebrates 246th Birthday
Since its formation 246 years ago, the U.S. Army has stood strong, true, and proud against countless threats to our nation’s sovereignty both at home and abroad.
The individual soldiers who make up the U.S. Army are also the primary source of our military’s strength. Presently, there are nearly 480,000 members of the U.S. Army, and each and every one of them has made personal sacrifices in order to defend our nation’s freedom.
But defending American freedom comes with a cost. The sacrifices soldiers make include both the mental and the physical. Asbestos, for example, has threatened the physical health of individual members of the U.S. Army for decades.
Asbestos use in the U.S. Army was widespread from the 1930s through the late 1970s, and the mineral was used to fireproof and insulate U.S. Army bases, barracks, vehicles, buildings, and even protective clothing.
The health risks of asbestos came to public knowledge in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the U.S. military started phasing out its use. But for thousands of soldiers, it was too little, too late. Asbestos causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, among other diseases.
Presently, as a result of such widespread asbestos use, military veterans, including those who served in the U.S. Army, make up around 30% of all mesothelioma cases.
U.S. Army veterans exposed decades ago are now at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, as it takes 20-50 years for these diseases to develop. Diseases like mesothelioma are just one of the many reasons why it is crucial to support our troops and veterans.
How to Celebrate the U.S. Army’s Birthday
Following fast on the heels of Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day, the U.S. Army’s birthday offers Americans yet another opportunity to pay their respects to and show their support for our nation’s soldiers.
Organizations such as sports franchises, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), and others often sponsor local events that celebrate the U.S. Army, including picnics, Army balls, and sporting events.
According to military.com, some of these events include:
- Army Week Association
- Army Birthday Gala
- Army Birthday Ball in Detroit
- Army Birthday Celebrations at Ft. McCoy
- AUSA ARMY Birthday Celebration in Maryland
- AUSA Army Birthday Celebration in Phoenix
- AUSA Sunshine Chapter
- Fort Meade Army Birthday 5K Run/1 Mile Walk
- Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston
- Pacific Theater Army Week
To learn about any of the local celebrations going on in your area, call, write, or visit your local MWR office.