The U.S. Army is older than the country it protects. Older even, than the Declaration of Independence.
On Tuesday, Fort Gordon celebrated the Army's 236th birthday and Flag Day, which fall on the same date.
"It also just happens to be my birthday. So, I remember this pretty easily," said Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, who presided over the ceremony. Lynn is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon.
The Army began June 14, 1775, as the Continental Army. The Continental Congress established the Army after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War to coordinate military efforts among the 13 colonies. Exactly two years later, on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the American flag. Flag Day commemorates that event.
When an institution is 236 years old, the birthday celebration ought to be pretty special, and this one was. Fort Gordon delivered a horn quartet and a presentation of historic Army uniforms. A sheet cake the size of a small table rolled in, and Lynn ordered soldiers to slice it ceremoniously with their swords.
Macy Briggs, 7, and her brother Reid, 5, thought that looked pretty good.
"It looks like a big cake," said Macy, on her way to get a piece.
Macy and Reid attended the celebration with their father, Staff Sgt. Brent Briggs; mother, Tiffany; and brother, Ruben, 3. They and about 150 other soldiers and family members were on hand, not just for the Army birthday but also to witness their military and community leaders signing the Army's Family and Fort Gordon Community covenants.
The two covenants, a gesture the Army has performed for four years, declare support for the families of soldiers and confirm partnership with the surrounding community.
"When our soldiers are separated from their loved ones, we've promised to do our very best to care for them in their stead," Lynn said.
Briggs is a Purple Heart recipient, as were many who attended.
"It definitely makes me feel like the family and the community around us are combined," he said. "The mayors of Grovetown and Augusta both attended. We live in Grovetown, so that was extremely important to me."