Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Why of all days do we celebrate Flag Day on June 14th? Why not some time in April or October when the weather in Texas is more agreeable?


Of course I know the answer, otherwise I wouldn't be asking the question. June 14th, like November 11th (Veterans Day, a.k.a. Armistice Day), has historical significance. It was on June 14, 1775 that the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing "the American continental army" (comprised initially of 15,000 men from New York and Connecticut) to establish a common defense of all American Colonies from the outrageous actions of the British military in the Massachusetts Colony (the Siege of Boston). So today is the U.S. Army's 233rd birthday.

And well I remember that date. On June 14, 1975 (the Army's 200th birthday) I stood on Cockrell Drill Field at Fort Stewart, GA along with another 2000 men (there were no women in formation). We were gathered for the activation of the First Brigade, 24th Infantry Division. That day was sweltering, as south Georgia tends to be in June. The 24th Infantry suffered more injuries during that hour-long ceremony (all heat-related) than it did from the First Gulf War. Some undersecretary of defense was the main speaker. I remember no words from that ceremony other than the adjutant's most welcome command "Pass in Review". We wheeled right, made two left turns and then (twelve-men abreast) executed "Eyes Right" as we passed the reviewing stand. I, as one of the twelve platoon leaders on the front rank of the Second Battalion of the 34th Infantry Regiment, saw the tips of six left ears and one nose, and the crooks of seven right elbows raised in salute. For an Army that had just watched the Communists overrun Saigon less than two months earlier, we looked good.

Since that day the 24th Infantry (Taro Leaf) Division has seen action in the first Gulf War where it trapped and played the major role in destroying the world's fifth largest army within 100 hours. The 24th has since been redesignated as the 3rd Infantry Division (Rock of the Marne) and has once again taken the lead in capturing Baghdad and again destroying Saddam's army. But there I stood as the unit activated, and it was there at Fort Stewart almost three years later that I introduced my bride to the final nine months of my life in the military.

Now, as we once again stand on the brink of Jimmy Carter's inauguration (though this time Jimmy sports a much better tan), I ponder what other military victories will be squandered by our State Department.

5 comments:

James said...

I found a typo. I think you meant you were there to "activate" not "active" the 24th Infantry.
Happy Birthday to the Army by the way, I missed the cake at Cadet Command here at Fort Knox because I was getting an IV. Well we were at Combat Life Saver (CLS) and I stuck one of my fellow lieutenants and he got to return the favor. Hope you had a good Flag day. Around here we are referring to it more along the lines of the Army's Birthday. Talk to yall later

Bob said...

Thanks for catching the typo.

And happy birthday to you -- you, the greatest army on the face of the Earth.

Mrs. Who said...

Now, as we once again stand on the brink of Jimmy Carter's inauguration (though this time Jimmy sports a much better tan), I ponder what other military victories will be squandered by our State Department.

Best description I've seen, may God have mercy on our souls.

Bob said...

Mrs Who--
God has been very merciful. But one has to wonder at what point He just throws up His hands and says, "Okay, have it your way."

I've become very cynical lately - it probably has something to do with my having two sons in the service at a time when the Democrats are preparing to cut off support of our allies just as they did to the South Vietnamese in 1974.

Bou said...

I'm so laughing because for months now I've been saying that that whacko is another Jimmy Carter. I keep calling him Jimmy II. Scary.