The U.S. Army Reserve helped celebrate the U.S. Army’s 248th birthday and Flag Day June 14 in the city where the Army, the Flag and the nation were created.
The Philadelphia Stripes and Stars Festival was highlighted by an Army birthday celebration outside Independence Hall, where in 1775 the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution to establish the Continental Army.
“What better place to celebrate this occasion than at our nation’s birthplace right here at Independence Hall,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney Faulk, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, who served as keynote speaker for the event. “The Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution that were crafted in these hallowed halls are the very documents for which our Soldiers serve and sacrifice every day.”
The event, hosted by the Penn & Franklin – Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, also featured the mass enlistment of new Army recruits, cutting of the Army birthday cake, and an aerial demonstration by Team Fastrax professional skydiving team.
“More than 1.3 million Americans who have given their lives in service to his nation have defended the principles of freedom and liberty that we hold most dear,” Faulk said. “Today’s event offers an opportunity to reflect on the great deeds of Soldiers past.”
Earlier in the day, the Philadelphia Flag Day Association hosted a naturalization ceremony for 14 new U.S. citizens at the Betsy Ross House.
“Being a U.S. citizen is a great honor, and these men and women have earned their place – to quote our National Anthem – in the ‘land of the free, and the home of the brave,’” said Brig. Gen. Beth Salisbury, deputy commanding general of the 99th RD. “As a Soldier, I know that this land is free because of the brave service members who have defended our country for the past two-and-a-half centuries.
“As U.S. citizens, we are all beneficiaries of the legions of Americans who have throughout history sworn the oath to protect and defend our nation,” Salisbury continued. “These brave men and women have volunteered to put their lives on the line so that ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ remain unalienable rights for generations to come.”
Salisbury also marched in a parade from the National Constitution Center to Independence Hall.
“We serve in defense of the United States Constitution – it is a foundational document that affirms our rights and freedoms as proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence,” Salisbury said. “These documents are supremely important as they provide the very foundation of our country.”
For 248 years, the U.S. Army has answered the call to defend and support America against both foreign and domestic challenges. Approximately 141,000 U.S. Soldiers are currently deployed in 140 different countries around the world.
“The U.S. Army has had a rich history of defending our people and our way of life since 1775; today, we celebrate the continued legacy of honorable service being carried on by the current generation of men and women in uniform,” Faulk said. “Our freedom rests in the hands of this capable and dedicated all-volunteer force.”
The Army Reserve has evolved into an essential part of the Total Force with streamlined, deployable forces, and Citizen-Soldiers who embody the warrior mindset and culture.
“It gives me great pleasure to wish my fellow Soldiers a heartfelt and well-deserved, ‘Happy birthday,’” Faulk said.