This week, I am proud to celebrate the 237th birthday of our Army.

For 237 years, our soldiers and their families have been the strength of our great nation in peace and at war.

This week, across the nation, we will be celebrating our Army and the remarkable men and women, past and present, who have embraced our nation’s call to service.

On June 14, 1775, our nation’s leaders established the Continental Army.  This act brought the militias of the Thirteen Colonies together in their revolt against the oppressive rule of the British – thus beginning our Army’s rich heritage of meeting the needs of our nation and defending her citizens.

The hodge-podge of farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen and scholars of America’s Continental Army faced a formidable opponent. The odds were not in their favor, but our Soldiers made up for what they lacked with patriotism, astounding perseverance and dedication to the ideals of freedom.

Whether crossing the Delaware River in 1776 or the English Channel in 1944, our Army forbearers demonstrated through their actions that the American Soldier will bear any burden for the cause of freedom and their fellow citizens.

Today, America’s Army is engaged in nearly 150 countries around the world, on 6 of 7 continents, with over 94,000 Soldiers deployed today and 94,000 forward stationed.  Our nation depends on its Army to defend the shores of our homeland, defeat enemy forces abroad, and help with recovery efforts in the wake of natural disasters so that the American people may enjoy the fruits of freedom and live in peace.

We have the best equipped, best trained and best led Army in history, and it is because of the 1.1 million professional soldiers who serve in the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard, as well as the dedicated service of our Army Civilians. Their hard work, commitment and professionalism have enabled our Army to stand firm when others might waver, to be a beacon of hope to those who desire freedom and to endure the agony of war because our nation asked us to sacrifice.

It is our Army’s professional competence, moral character, and resolute commitment that truly defines us as professionals and guarantees our sacred trust with the American people.  It is a solemn responsibility that we must always strive to maintain.

Once a young man or woman joins the Army and takes the oath to support and defend the Constitution, they enter into a sacred trust with their nation. And whether they serve one enlistment or retire from the Army they will always remain a soldier.

Army Strong!

General Raymond T. Odierno is chief of staff of the United States Army.

For more information on this year's birthday celebrations visit: www.army.mil/birthday/237/index.php.