NEWS | June 15, 2021

AG joins Flag Day and Army Birthday celebration in Vinton

By Mike Vrabel Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, gave remarks and participated in a ceremonial cake cutting during the Flag Day and Army Birthday event hosted by the Allegheny - Blue Ridge chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army June 13, 2021, in Vinton, Virginia. 

The event, which commemorated the U.S. Army’s 246th birthday, was held at the Vinton War Memorial just outside of Roanoke. The Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event. 

The AUSA chapter president, retired Army Col. John Miller, provided opening remarks during the ceremony and introduced Williams, the guest speaker for the event. 

“It’s a special day, a day of reflection and celebration honoring our nation’s flag, and 246 years of our Army’s existence in our country’s history,” said Miller. 

After a brief introduction, Williams addressed the gathered crowd, which included local AUSA members as well as Virginia Sen. David Suetterlein, Virginia Del. Joe McNamera and Vinton Mayor Bradley Grose. 

“This event, as well as so many others, to include last week’s observance of the 77th anniversary of D-Day, are that much more impactful when we’re able to come together as a community,” Williams told the audience. “I know it’s incredible to think that we’re finally coming out of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic…an event that frankly hasn’t been seen by our nation since before World War I.”

Williams went on to discuss the Army’s origins and history, and the important role it continues to play in society, to include organizations like the AUSA. 

“From our beginning, General Washington firmly believed that one of the Army’s missions was to serve as a keeper of the ideals of liberty and the right of our several states and nation to govern ourselves, and that we could create our own destiny,” said Williams. “I absolutely subscribe to the general’s view, and would expand that to include all of us who have served, whether still in uniform or not. We all have a critical role to play in our communities and AUSA serves as a vital vehicle for that. This is our nation and we’ve sworn to protect it and telling our story is a key part of that.”

Williams highlighted the role the Virginia National Guard has played since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in serving and protecting Virginians. He detailed the organization’s role in Virginia’s pandemic response, including testing and food bank support, continuing through to current vaccination missions. 

“Through it all, the determination and professionalism of your Virginia National Guard was on full display,” said Williams. “When vaccines became available, the Virginia National Guard answered the call and fielded teams that are still operating today and helping to inoculate over 125,000 Virginians.”

Williams also spoke to the VNG’s involvement in supporting storm response missions, civil disturbance response and involvement protecting the nation’s capital after the events of January 6, 2021. 

“The Virginia National Guard mobilized 3,000 Soldiers and Airmen to defend our nation’s capital against insurrectionists,” said Williams. “Our 29th Infantry Division Headquarters lead the entire Guard response of over 26,000 troops.”

All of these domestic operations have and are taking place while many Virginia units prepare for federal mobilizations, including the 29th Infantry Division, which began federal active duty May 15, 2021. 

“Suffice it to say, we’re a critical part of response operations here in the homeland as well as fulfilling our responsibilities as the combat reserve of the United States Army,” Williams said. “This is just one story among many others across our 54 states and territories, and what a story. This is your National Guard, your Army!”

After the formal remarks, Williams and a cadet from the Susie G. Gibson Science and Technology Center’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps ceremonially cut a cake commemorating the Army’s 246th birthday. The JROTC cadets also provided ceremonial color guard for the festivities. 

According to their website, the AUSA is a nonprofit educational and professional development association whose mission is to “support soldiers, their families and Army civilians, provide a voice for the Army, and honor those who have served.”