On 14 June, I had the privilege of attending two events that confirmed the idea of the Army as a constant force in our society. A change of command began the day and a celebration of the Army’s birthday closed out the day.
The Fort Benning garrison command change occurred at 8 am to begin the day. Thankfully, the event was early because it was already getting warm by the time it ended. Colonel Jeff Fletcher relinquished command to Colonel Michail Huerter. Fletcher is a Columbus native and Adjutant General Corps officer. Huerter has been at Benning many times as an Infantryman with lots of Ranger experience. The two Colonels had very different careers but are linked through their service and now command position. Colonel Fletcher is now headed to Afghanistan, a place Colonel Huerter has been before.
Changes of command and responsibility occur virtually every day in the Army as leaders move to new assignments. Formal changes of command such as this garrison are tightly regulated and happen every 2 years. Organizations continue on because soldiers and civilians in those groups know their duties and expect such changes. New leaders bring new ideas and keep the energy level up in order to cope with challenges that always seem to come along. Regardless of these changes, life goes on in the Army and the Army remains the faithful watchdog ready to sacrifice itself for the nation.
The Army birthday ball ended the evening and in its own way reminded me of the constant change in the Army and the Army’s role in protecting the nation regardless of the calamity. During the ball in order to remember the legacy of Fort Benning and celebrate the arrival of the Armor School, soldiers in period uniforms from World War I to today marched into the hall. Their presence illustrated to the assembled soldiers, spouses, and civilians the long heritage of Fort Benning and of infantry and armor soldiers training and fighting together in defense of the nation. This display again emphasized that the Army has a long history of change while maintaining its steady support to America’s citizens. The entire event was a reminder of the solemn pledge all soldiers make to risk their lives if need be in order to safeguard the country. Change was especially apparent when the oldest and youngest members present cut the birthday cake. The oldest was a chaplain. The youngest was a female private.
The Army does keep rolling along. We citizens and our political leaders sometimes take that service for granted. Consequently, there are times resources are short and the missions are many. Regardless of these challenges, soldiers, their families, and Army civilians will keep trying to make do and to do their duty. Without that dedication we would not be able to look forward to celebrations like the 4th of July. Please say a little prayer for those soldiers and civilians who are in harm’s way and thank God for the sacrifices of those who have not returned from battlefields all over the world from 1775 to now.