Happy Birthday, United States Army

US ARMYOK, I realize that purists (as well as the U.S. Army) celebrate June 14 as the anniversary of the formation of the Continental Army  by the  Second Continental  Congress, a year prior to the Declaration of Independence as tensions between colonists and Great Britain began to increase in New England. Contrarian that  I am, I argue that today should be the anniversary because that is when George Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief. The men who fight make an army — I in no way want to minimize that fact. But the Continental Army really takes shape under Washington, who repeatedly led his men without surrender against the British in the first successful anti-imperial revolution, organized the Army in ways that exist to this day, and served as the embodiment of the Army’s values of courage and selflessness despite the overwhelming odds faced by every U.S. soldier. Washington always respected the civilian command structure (he was subordinate to Congress) and his greatest moment as a soldier was when he voluntarily relinquished power, surrendering his sword, disbanding his army, and returning to civilian life with no expectation of political power as a reward for his service. The U.S. Army at its best still maintains those ideals and fights to defend the ideals of this nation. Besides, if we celebrate the Army’s birthday today the anniversary is not swallowed by another worthy patriotic celebration, Flag Day. But whatever the day, Happy Birthday to the nation’s oldest branch of service, the one that first fought so the ideals of the Declaration would become an independent reality called the United States of America.


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Filed under Commentary, History of the Declaration of Independence

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