America just marked pair of birthdays

This past weekend, on June 14, 2014, the finest country on the face of the earth celebrated two very significant historical birthdays. The United States Army, founded in 1775, celebrated its 239th birthday. Further, our magnificent red, white and blue United States flag, created in 1777, celebrated its 237th birthday. June 14 is officially known as Flag Day. Happy birthday to both!

Our nation’s leaders established the Army in 1775, and at that time it was called the Continental Army. It did not take our government long to choose who was to be the first leader of the Army. The very next day, on June 15, 1775, Congress chose George Washington, a Virginian, to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

This was the clear choice because George Washington’s military experience was perhaps greater than that of any other American. Further, he was from Virginia, the largest and considered to be one of the most important of all the colonies. An additional factor in making what turned out to be a great decision was the fact that Washington had already demonstrated his great leadership skills in a very quiet and confident manner.

Of course, our brave men and women who serve in the United States Army today continue to demonstrate their commitment to defending our precious liberty by their strong character and unwavering dedication to the very important and critical defense of our nation.

In addition to those serving on active duty in the Army, we also have many patriotic citizens serving in the Army Reserve. The Army Reserve is different from active duty in the Army. Active duty in the Army is certainly a full-time job. While serving in the Army reserve, a person can continue to pursue a civilian career or attend college full-time and still serve their community and our country.

While serving in the Army Reserve, a person can also receive medical benefits, educational benefits, tuition assistance and help build for their retirement. Essentially, while serving in the Army Reserve, people have the opportunity to continue working in their civilian profession. They will also continue their Army training close to home and will stand ready to serve with their valuable Army job skills, if called upon to serve on active duty.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress created America’s first official flag, to show the union of the thirteen colonies, now turned into states. Congress declared on this date: “That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white.”

This became the first official flag of these United States. Congress later declared that the three colors of our flag represented the following. Red stood for hardiness and valor, white stood for innocence and purity, and blue meant vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Our 2014 flag day is very special for another important reason. This year of 2014 is very significant because it is also the 200th anniversary of the “The Star Spangled Banner”, written by Francis Scott Key in September, 1814.

History tells us that he was inspired to write the famous lyrics to what is now our national anthem as he observed our flag proudly waving over Fort McHenry during the major battle when the British were attacking Baltimore.

May God Bless America as we all take some time throughout 2014 to reflect on the great history of the United States Army and respect our remarkable red, white, and blue flag of these great United States.

Editor’s note: Dr. Jim Surrell, author of “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet,” has his practice at the Digestive Health Clinic at Marquette General Health System. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at