Thursday, June 14, 2012

237th Army Birthday Ball, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

          Today, the base celebrated the Army’s 237th Birthday. The continental Army was established on June 14, 1775. The celebration commemorates the soldiers, families and civilian of the U.S. Army. I am a Navy veteran so bear with me on these Army specifics.  
            Since 1890, once a year, the two rivals get together and play a friendly game of football. Unlike the Navy’s slogan, “America's Navy: A Global Force for Good”, (the Navy will celebrate its 234th birthday on October 13), the Army’s slogan is, “Army Strong”, which accounts for the total force being 1,071,279, 15% of which are women. Other than different missions, the core values are similar; the Navy’s three (3) core values are honor, courage and commitment. The Army’s have seven (7) which are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage (LDRSHIP).
      The program began with the Posting of Colors, toasts and speeches. But the highlight of the evening’s festivities was the Campaign Streamers Ceremony. The 183 streamers that were attached to the Army flag after each introduction represent the campaigns fought by the Army throughout the nation’s history. When the Army flag is not being carried, the streamers are arranged so that the first (Revolutionary War) and the last (Iraqi/Afghanistan/GWOT) streamers are in the center facing forward.
            In the front of the dining hall was a vacant table which is symbolic of the members of the armed forces that are missing. This portion of the ceremony is a tribute to all Fallen Comrades; POW’s and MIA’s.  There are several versions of this ceremony but basically they result in a similar message.  The table is set for one which symbolizes the defenselessness against the suppressors. The white tablecloth denotes purity of one’s intentions while defending his/her country.  The single yellow rose in a vase is a reminder of the life of each of the fallen and the families who love and miss them. The red ribbon that is tied around the vase represents a proper accounting of the comrades who are not in attendance today. The slice of lemon on the napkin is a reminder of the comrade’s bitter fate. There is salt sprinkled on the plate which denotes the countless tears of families as they wait and the inverted glass signifies that the fallen comrades cannot toast with us tonight.  The chair is empty and the lit candle is suggestive of hope which remains in our hearts to light their way home from their captors back to the open arms of a grateful nation. There is a prayer and accompanying that, a somber calm. A few sniffles can be heard.

            Following the ceremony, there were a few more toasts, a couple of speeches, the benediction, the singing of the Army Song, and at the conclusion of the program, the Retirement of Colors. I must admit, I really enjoyed the program; almost as exciting as watching the changing of the guards in Washington, DC.     HOOOOOAH!!!!
All the best, 

1 comment:

  1. It's so great to read about your adventures in Saudi and you look FAB !