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NEWS | June 11, 2020

Army to go virtual with its annual birthday events

By Joseph Lacda Army News Service

As much of the Army remains under pandemic safety restrictions, the service will turn to the virtual realm this week to pay tribute to the 245th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Army, June 14, 1775.

The military’s largest branch will live-stream or broadcast pre-recorded videos of its traditional birthday events.

"For 245 years, the Army has been built from every corner of the nation, said Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy. “As a reflection of society, we find ourselves struggling with the same issues that the nation is grabbling with. Birthdays are more than just a celebration of the years that have passed, but also a nod to the future, the opportunity for growth, and the determination for change.”

Also this year, the Army will broadcast a special tribute to the force and the nation titled, “The Army at 245: A Tribute to America.” This pre-recorded event will feature messages from McCarthy, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston.

The video, filmed partially at the new National Museum of the U.S. Army located beside Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will be streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube June 14 at 7 p.m.

Other birthday events, though closed to the public, will have a limited number of participants attending. Protective measures and physical distancing will be implemented.

“Due to COVID-19 impacts, we took a look at how we could virtualize aspects of traditional birthday events,” said Alayne Conway, a strategic communication planner for the birthday events. “And so we had discussions about this, and we came up with a concept working with the Army Birthday headquarters planning team to modify events that pay tribute to America and commemorate the 245th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Army.”

The impact of the recent pandemic has caused sweeping effects throughout the Army. The service has delayed permanent-change-of-station moves and extended some duty assignments, though many of the Army’s training schools have continued courses with protective measures.

The Army has increasingly become more visible in the national spotlight as it helps lead the COVID-19 prevention efforts. This has been a total Army effort, with all of the service’s components involved – Active, Guard and Reserve. Army National Guard troops have deployed across the country and the Army Reserve has sent medical augmentation task forces to New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark, New Jersey.

The Army’s birthday planners, led by the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, hope to reconnect the Army with the civilian population it serves.

“We acknowledge that the pandemic has upended the daily lives and traditions of Americans,” Conway said. “We have to find some balance to maintain or meet the Army's traditions, while also practicing social distancing and protection efforts.”

To begin the birthday week festivities, Grinston challenged Soldiers to run 2.45-miles with their squad. During the challenge, which started on June 8, Soldiers can post videos of their runs and run times to social media sites.

The Army’s traditional birthday cake-cutting ceremony will be held in a subdued manner at the Pentagon June 12 at 1 p.m., and it will be live-streamed. Army senior leaders will preside over the ceremony that will be followed by an annual re-enlistment.

Also on June 12, a pre-recorded virtual run led by the 3rd Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, and the Military District of Washington will be streamed at 6:30 a.m., and a virtual national commissioning ceremony will be hosted by U.S. Army Cadet Command at 10 a.m.

"Today's Soldiers embody a 245-year tradition of answering the nation's call," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville. "Throughout our history, Soldiers have upheld their oath to defend the constitution and protect Americans in the face of conflicts, pandemics, and social unrest. This sacred trust with our fellow citizens is the cornerstone of why we serve."

The U.S. Military Academy’s 2020 graduation will be streamed live at 9:30 a.m. June 13.

The Army’s wreath-laying tradition at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will begin streaming at 11:30 a.m. June 14.

Army Soldiers and their families, Army civilians, veterans and retirees are invited to participate in the 25-minute flagship event, “The Army at 245: A Tribute to America,” which will be streamed worldwide on Facebook June 14, 2020, at 7 p.m. For the complete list of online activities in which you can participate, go to U.S. Army 2020 Birthday Events page.