On May 10, 1775, twelve colonies convened the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One colony was absent at the time, Georgia would come later, arriving on July 20 following their own Provincial Congress.
The Revolution had begun in April that year, with the battles of Lexington and Concord. A primary focus of the Second Continental Congress was to manage the war effort.
The fledgling United States had no Army at this time, relying instead on ad hoc militia units organized by the colonies themselves. At this time there were approximately 22,000 such troops surrounding British forces occupying Boston, with another 5,000 or so in New York.
The Continental Congress established the ‘American Continental Army’ on June 14, 1775, authorizing 10 companies of ‘expert riflemen,’ to serve as light infantry in the siege of Boston. The next day the Congress unanimously selected George Washington to be General and Commander in Chief of all continental forces.
Two years later and also on this day the 2nd Continental Congress passed a resolution, stating that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white,” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
President Woodrow Wilson marked the day in 1916 by declaring June 14 as national Flag Day. So it is we observe Flag Day and the birth of the United States Army alike, on June 14.
Other branches of the Armed services were quick to follow the establi9shment, of the Continental Army. The Navy was formed in October 1775, the Marine Corps in November. 18th century revenue cutter and rescue operations led to the formation of the United States Coast Guard in January 1915. The Air Force spun off of the Army Air Corps in September 1947.
Discussions for a Space force, the last of eight uniformed services and six co-equal branches of US Armed Forces began as early as 1958. The idea gained new impetus with a June 2018 order from then President Donald Trump, directing the Department of Defense begin the necessary steps to establish such an agency as a part of the US Armed Forces.
Formally established in December 2019 the Space Force was mocked in some corners. It is difficult to understand why. A dull child could easily see the strategic importance of such an organization, national defense leaning as it does on space in the modern era for navigation, intelligence, missile warning, communications, weather and precision-guided munitions, and more. This is to say nothing of the many uses we all find for satellites in our day-to-day lives.
Most of the Continental Army was disbanded following the Treaty of Paris ended the war in 1783. The 1st and 2nd Regiments remained to become the basis of the Legion of the United States in 1792, under General Anthony Wayne. These two became the foundation of the United States Army, in 1796.
Speaking on Armed Services Day in 1953, President Dwight David Eisenhower said: “It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.”
On the other days of the year, you might well say you can thank a teacher that you can read this essay. Today, you can thank a soldier that you can read it in English. Happy birthday, United States Army.
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