Today is an exact date in military and European military history for a couple of reasons.
To start with, June 14, 1775 was the day the U.S. Army was created by the Continental Congress, ergo it’s the Army’s birthday.
Happy 239th birthday, U.S. Army.
Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps for a reason, June 14 is also Flag Day. Hopefully that means you see a lot of American flags flying over homes and businesses all over the local area today. Or, maybe not, as it’s not an official holiday nor one observed much of anywhere except on military bases.
The Army birthday is usually celebrated, of sorts, on Army bases.
This week’s For Leavenworth Lamp was not published by my deadline date, so I don’t know what observance the fort will have. Since it’s a Saturday and not a workday, perhaps not much of a celebration will take place.
I don’t recall much of any type of Flag Day celebration, except for flags to be flown in all sorts of appropriate places.
During my productive years as an Army civilian, I made several official visits to Omaha, Neb., a few hours to the north. On my first visit, I was impressed as I drove around the city, which I had not visited before, at the number of American flags flying from many different places.
It was the same on subsequent visits, and I remained impressed. Then last year, while on shift as a volunteer at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, I met a retired military family from Omaha.
When I mentioned the flag flying memory, both husband and wife said they had never noticed flags flying all over Omaha before.
Since it’s been quite a few years since I last visited Omaha, perhaps the flag trend has gone away. That would be sad, as I don’t believe we need a reason to fly a flag at any time.
A sad June 14 military event was the fall of Paris to the invading German army in 1940. That early World War II event led to the subsequent occupation of France by the Germans, something the Imperial German army never accomplished in The Great War a few years earlier.
In just a few months historians of the world will be reassessing the German invasion of 1914 as we begin commemorating the centennial of The Great War, later the War to End All Wars, subsequently named World War I.
What the German army couldn’t do in four years from 1914-1918 the more modern German army of WWII did in a matter of weeks in 1940. A few of the men were the same in 1940 as in 1914, but technology had added many new items to the war inventory, as had modern tactics and several other factors.
The June 1940 event was memorable only to the conquering Germans, so to we who were Allies in The Big War, it is a sad memory.
At this time of year, as some 100 new international military students are reporting to Fort Leavenworth to begin the alleged “Best Year of Their Lives,” it’s interesting to note there will be students from virtually every country that fought in The Great War.
Since Fort Leavenworth has always been considered “neutral territory,” the descendants of soldiers who fought each other in both world wars will be classmates and become friends before their year is over.
I will close with a hearty happy birthday to the U.S. Army, and a hope that those who have driven or will drive around the area today will see lots of American flags flying all over the place.
Perhaps I should make it a bucket list item to someday count the flags flying in Omaha and Leavenworth.