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NEWS | Dec. 29, 2023

Army Reserve leader remembers fallen at ‘modern Army’s birthplace’

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The U.S. Army Reserve took part in the annual Wreaths Across America event Dec. 16 at Valley Forge’s Washington Memorial Chapel here.

Maj. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, commanding general of the Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, served as keynote speaker for the event.

“Valley Forge served as the location for the Continental Army’s winter encampment from 1777 to 1778 and is considered to be the birthplace of the modern American Army,” Belanger explained. “The Continental Army entered Valley Forge as a collection of colonial militias supported by hundreds of camp followers and allies, and emerged under General George Washington’s leadership as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force.”

The event was hosted by the Society of the Descendants of Washington’s army at Valley Forge.

“While today’s event offers an opportunity to remember the great deeds of Soldiers past, it also reminds us of the service and sacrifice of our current generation of service members,” Belanger said. “Since General Washington commanded the Continental Army two-and-a-half centuries ago, millions of Americans have served our nation in the armed forces, and more than 1.3 million have given their lives in its defense.”

According to their website, Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember the fallen, honor those who serve, and teach the next generation the value of freedom.

“At a time when only one percent of eligible Americans volunteer to serve in the armed forces, we all owe a great debt to America’s service members, both past and present,” Belanger said. “Our all-volunteer military is a credit to Americans of all races, genders and creeds, and our common commitment to defense of – and love for – our country binds us and unites us together; that goes to the heart of what it means to be an American.”