Story and photos by Samantha B. Koss
More than a year before the Declaration of Independence was adopted 236 years ago, the Army was born, making it older than the United States of America.
Since June 14, 1775, the oldest branch in the U.S. military has fought in 183 campaigns, from the Battle of Lexington to Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.
On Saturday, Fort Carson celebrated this history with the annual Army Ball, beginning with a formal dinner followed by dancing at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
“Let us honor the greatest Army the world has ever seen,” said retired Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano, former commanding general of Fort Carson and guest speaker at the ball.
About 500 guests wearing gowns, dress uniforms or suits passed the Color Guard as they entered the Crowne Plaza.
“The horses of the Color Guard hold 183 battle streamers, which represent campaigns the Army has fought in,” said Todd Richert, ceremony coordinator. “The Army Ball builds camaraderie and sense of pride in the Army’s history and their units.”
“As I look around the room, I’m delighted to see men and women whose selfless service keeps our Army alive and stronger than ever,” said Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, to open the ceremony.
The Army is an organization that remembers its past in order to protect the country’s future, Soriano said, noting this years’ theme: “Remember the past, protect the future.”
A small, round table set for one stood at the front of the banquet hall, recognizing the fallen comrades who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while defending freedom for the past 236 years.
Guests paused for a moment of silence to remember the fallen heroes as Sgt.
Julie Foster, 759th Military Police Battalion and Fort Carson’s noncommissioned officer of the year, lit the candle on the table.
A few items sat on the table representing fallen Soldiers, such as a lemon, which signified fallen Soldiers’ bitter fate; and a salt shaker, symbolizing the tears shed by loved ones.
“A wine glass turned upside down reminds us that our fallen comrades can not be with us tonight to drink a toast and celebrate the Army’s 236 birthday,” said Sgt. 1st
Class Shannon Wright, the event moderator.
Guests raised their wine glasses to toast their fallen comrades as well as Soldiers currently fighting overseas.
“The Army is a growing, evolving organization with an unquenchable desire for perfection,” Soriano said during his after-dinner speech. “Today’s Army is the best, most capable Army in our nation’s history.”
Soldiers are combating terrorism in more than 120 countries, he said after reminding the guests not to forget the 357 Soldiers whose names are etched on stones at the Mountain Post Warrior Memorial by Gate 1.
As the formal events of the night ended, guests moved to the dance floor for a few hours of line dancing and slow dances.
“It’s been a class A event,” said Linda Heussher, Family member guest. “I’ve had a great time tonight; (the Ball) is beautiful.”
Remembering the past honors the sacrifice of those who came before, Soriano said closing the ceremony.
“Protecting the future is our responsibility … ensuring that our Army will be strong,” he said.