Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, went to Capitol Hill to share with Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a birthday cake in celebration of the Army’s 237th birthday.
Before introducing McHugh, Austin opened the cake-cutting celebration with a reminder to soldiers, family members and Senate staffers that leadership was "not focused on the institution itself, but [on] the people, because the Army is about people ... not the weapons, not the vehicles. It’s about our people and I know the same is true for our secretary."
McHugh, said, "It’s always great to be back on this side of the Potomac, particularly when I’m not a witness for anything," referring to the many times he and Army leaders appear on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress.
He also said that once a year, the Army sets aside a week of celebration to commemorate its long and storied history.
McHugh called that history "237 years of making a difference," not just in the nation, but across the planet.
The Army, he noted, brings goodness, freedom and opportunity to people less fortunate.
"It’s also a time for us to simply say: ‘Thank you.’ Thank you to the American people for the great support they give us each and every day on behalf of our Army, the soldiers and their families," McHugh said.
Adding, "But it’s also a time to say thank you, in my opinion, most importantly to our overseers right here on Capitol Hill."
It is the work of lawmakers, McHugh said, that allows the Army to function in its defense of the United States.
"It starts and ends right here on Capitol Hill, and blessedly for us, since the formation of the Second Continental Congress, right up to this day of the 112th Congress, this Army has grounded strength, grounded support and ultimately has, I think, found much of its success because of the great work that both the House and the Senate have provided for each one of our 237 years. Thank you for the support you’ve given."
Before the cake cutting, Army veterans Inhofe and Akaka expressed their thanks for those who have served and those who still serve with the Army.
Drafted in 1943, when he was just 17 years old, Akaka served with the Army Corps of Engineers in Saipan and Tinian in the western Pacific until 1947.
He later became a teacher and high school principal. He has served in some capacity, in federal service, for 69 years. He has decided not to run for re-election this year.
Citing special guests – nine wounded warriors and their families in the audience – Akaka extended an "aloha" to all, saying: "In this case, aloha means love to you all."
Adding, "It has been the people of the Army that have been the strength of our nation and so I’m delighted to be here to extend my aloha to them all.
"I am deeply moved with your service to our country and for joining us today in this celebration of the Army birthday. Your service and sacrifice is an inspiration to all of us, so thank you." (Story based on an a ARNEWS article.)