Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is the 224th birthday of the United States Army or the 233rd if you include the Continental Army, which preceded the United States itself and was created on June 14, 1775.   Included in that 1775 army were several of my ancestors, including a few who had joined the cause even before this and answered the call at Lexington and Concord in April.  It seems hokey to say it these days, but I'm pretty thankful that they signed on a for a cause that seemed hopeless at the time, even if it now seems inevitable.  The privations in those early years made for a pretty unpleasant life.

In the course of the Presidential reading program, I have been reminded that before the Civil War, the idea of a large standing army was considered a frightening threat to freedom.  Indeed, one of the reasons why Washington was considered such a great statesman was that he commanded an army to victory and then relinquished control as soon as the battle was over.  Few at the time could believe that he would have the strength of character to do such a thing.  

The notion that civilian volunteer militias, called up only when there was a threat, would be more effective fighting forces than a regular army corps was prevalent in the thinking of most Presidents right up to Franklin Pierce.  Gradually, the experience of the Mexican War and the Civil War, along with the advance of military technology, would make it clear that militias were not as effective as a regular, trained army.  But even up to the beginning of World War II, the notion of a large standing army fit uncomfortably in the American psyche.  In some sense, it still fits uncomfortably and I happen to think that is a good thing.  

1 comment:

Jackson said...

I've got Army in my blood. Admittedly there's some Navy mixed in there, but mostly my blood is green with a hint of blue.

Growing up at West Point, a son of a third generation graduate, instilled me with great respect for those who choose this honoarble career, for indeed, in terms of career it is a choice.

I knew early on it was not going to be my career choice, but that has not diminished the amount of pride I hold for my father, his father, and all the career soldiers that have had impact on my life.