News: Senior leader explains Army birthday celebration
Story by Dustin Senger
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar — "I bring you greetings from the great state of Massachusetts, the birth place of our Army," said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mittie A. Smith, U.S. Army Garrison senior enlisted leader, during a speech honoring the 234th Army birthday at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, June 12. Smith traveled across the world to celebrate the Army birthday as a guest speaker for Soldiers stationed in Qatar.
During her remarks, Smith addressed an important question, "Why celebrate when the nation is at war?"
"What if your loved ones forgot, or failed, to celebrate your birthday or anniversary?" said Smith. "Your feelings would be tremendously hurt. You'd be disappointed and it would be difficult for them to recover ... because the occasion means something to you. You want your loved ones to remember that special day, regardless of what is going on in the world."
"Just like your birthday, the Army's birthday is a day of remembrance," she said. "It's a day of honor and respect ... a day to recognize the value of creation. On this 234th Army birthday, we pay special tribute to our non-commissioned officers, the backbone of our Army — hooah!"
"Our NCO corps represents the most professional cohort of enlisted leaders in the world," said Smith. "They have the freedom and autonomy of independent thought and decisive action, which serves as a critical combat multiplier. They are the vanguard in preserving the freedoms each American citizen enjoys."
"During every war since 1775, our NCOs were awarded the Medal of Honor," she said. "NCOs earned the highest U.S. military decoration for risking their lives above and beyond the call of duty; such as: Sgt. William H. Carney, Civil War; Sgt. Thomas Lee Hall, World War I; Sgt. Troy A. McGill, Word War II; Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Ashley, Vietnam War; and Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Operation Iraqi Freedom. The bravery and selflessness of these NCOs changed the course of an entire century. At an hour of eminent danger amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found it within themselves to do the extraordinary."
"It's important to celebrate even while the nation is at war — confident and certain we will achieve victory," said Smith. "It's important we tell our stories, so people never forget the legacy of service and sacrifice offered by our brave men and women. It's important to celebrate in order to draw strength from those moments in history when the best among us were somehow able to swallow their fears and emerge courageously in defense of this nation, at all costs."
"It's important to celebrate our Army's birthday because our Soldiers have embedded their majestic footprints in the burning sands of America's history," she said. "Society cannot afford to relegate its inherent responsibility to duly acknowledge their contributions to this nation."
"Army birthday celebrations are not about the events," said Smith. "They are about touching the hearts of our Soldiers. They serve to crystallize personal commitments. Tonight we celebrate you, for carrying out your role as a value-added member of the United States Army."