June 14th is the birthday of the Army, created by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. The next day, George Washington was elected Commander-in-Chief and soon issued orders that set the tone for the military, including one declaring:
The blessings and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor so to live and act as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.
Over the 242 years since its inception, the US Army–and indeed the entire American military–have repeatedly lived up to the high ideals set forth by its first Commander-in-Chief.
Speaking of the Army after the Civil War in 1871, Frederick Douglass reminded the nation:
We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood (like France)–if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage–if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth–if the Star-Spangled Banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization–we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
During WWI, General John Pershing reminded Americans:
Three thousand miles from home, an American army is fighting for you. Everything you hold worthwhile is at stake. Only the hardest blows can win against the enemy we are fighting. Invoking the spirit of our forefathers, the army asks your unflinching support, to the end that the high ideals for which America stands may endure upon the earth.
And in WWII, General George Marshall spoke about the mission of the United States:
We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.
By the way, June 14th is also Flag Day, commemorating June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress passed a resolution “that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Let’s celebrate the flag as well as the Army and American military who so ably defend our God-given freedoms and God-blessed nation!