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We Own this Month: Petition to Rename June "The Army's Month."

June 05, 2011 | First Lieutenant Jonathan Bratten

    OK, so I lied.  There is no petition.  If there were, who would it go to?  I doubt whether the naming of months falls under Congress's enumerated powers given by the Constitution.  But now that I have your attention, I would like to persuade you of the validity of my argument.  June is a month full of milestones for the Army. 

     The month of July seems to always be lauded as that month where the nation's patriotism is shown to be the greatest.  This, of course, is because of the 4th of July, which celebrates the nation's birth.  History buffs can point to the Union victories at Gettysburg on July 3 and Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, to show how the preservation of the country came on the anniversary of its birth.  But if being patriotic means thinking that the Army trumps all other branches (and let's be honest, it does), then June is the month to let the red, white, and blue fly.  Accompany me, if you will, as I give a brief run down of why June makes the other branches blush and wish it were August (Coast Guard), September (Air Force), October (Navy), or November (Marine Corps).

     Tomorrow, June 6, marks the day that the Army hit the beaches in Normandy in 1944.  Yes, they were carried by Navy equipment and covered by the Navy's guns, but naval bombardment alone did not drive the Nazis off of Omaha and Utah beaches.  Army Air Corps pilots flew sorties overhead in the good ol' days before those fighter pilots got uppity and got their own branch.  The Screaming Eagles and the All Americans began their legacy of victory as they parachuted into Normandy, just as the Rangers cemented their names in history as they scaled Pointe du Hoc.  Thousands of soldiers from the 1st, 4th, and 29th Infantry Divisions forced the gates of "Fortress Europe" and, by their heroism and sacrifice, broke the Nazi hold on Europe.  The price was high: almost 2,500 lost their lives.  But the Army had struck the long-awaited for blow.

     Next week, on June 14th, the nation will celebrate Flag Day, an almost forgotten tradition.  Even more forgotten is the birthday of the Army.  That's right, the Army shares its birthday with the Stars and Stripes.  If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.

     On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress voted to form an army for the protection of the new nation.  They appointed George Washington as commander.  Upon assuming command and inspecting the troops around Boston, Washington professed that the soldiers were undisciplined, poorly trained, and stubborn.  He would be echoed by commanders from Winfield Scott to U.S. Grant to George Patton.  But he also knew that with the proper amount of time spent in training, he had the beginnings of a superb fighting force.  The British disagreed, believing that the newly-minted Continental Army could be brushed aside.  Three days later on June 17, 1775, the British attacked the defenders of Bunker and Breed's Hill.  The U.S. Army soldiers fought off two waves of head-on assaults from some of the finest troops the British had.  Only because they ran out of ammunition did the American defenders eventually retreat.  Even then, they impressed the British commanders because they covered their retreat and did not flee.  While it was technically a British victory because they controlled the field, the British took more than twice as many casualties than did the Americans.  In the Army's "first" battle, they stood toe-to-toe with British Regulars, one of the finest land forces in the 18th century.

     Fast forward ninety years to the Civil War.  The last Confederate forces were forced to surrender on June 22, 1865, officially bringing an end to the conflict.  The U.S. Army grew from a force of 16,000 in 1861 to nearly a million men under arms in 1865.  They had defeated an enemy who held territory the size of western Europe and who had the advantage of interior lines.  Through their valor, the Union would survive.

      If these examples do not convince you, then you are a very obstinate person.  Or are in the Navy.  In all seriousness though, all of the services should be proud of each other.  The success of the American military comes from the cooperation between the various branches.  While we pick on each other like rowdy siblings, just ask our enemies what happens when they try to join in.  We're that "sleeping giant" Admiral Yamamoto was referring to, and we're light sleepers.  So celebrate the Army in June, the Coast Guard in August, the Air Force in September, the Navy in October, and the Marine Corps in November (or, if you're a Marine, on any day that ends in "y").   

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