Pomp, circumstance for Army's 228th birthday

By Ed Brock

The cannon fire rumbled over Hedekin Field at Army Garrison Fort McPherson, setting off distant car alarms. Lt. Col. Tim Goff watched the celebration of the Army's 228th birthday and wished there were more days like this.

"I think the community needs to get more involved in this kind of thing so they can know what the army really does," said Goff. "They only see us when we're on CNN but there's a lot that goes on before we get there."

Gov. Sonny Perdue joined Gen. Larry Ellis, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command stationed at Fort McPherson, as well as Command Sgt. Major Carl Christian on the review stand for Friday's birthday celebration. Re-enactors dressed in uniforms from all of the nation's wars posed before the trio of VIPs and the crowd of hundreds, cannons roared in salute and Perdue even had a hand on the cavalry saber used to cut a massive birthday cake.

"I tell you, more than anything, after seeing this wonderful celebration, I stand here as a proud American celebrating the finest fighting force the world has ever known, the United States Army," Perdue said.

Ellis opened the ceremony with compliments for the assembled troops.

"Where and when our army has marched, freedom has traveled in its ranks," Ellis said.

Goff, who lives in Eagles Landing and is inspector general for Fort McPherson in Atlanta and Fort Gillem in Forest Park, brought his wife Sharmagne and daughter Valencia Goff to see the celebration.

"It was great, I loved it," Valencia Goff said.

The celebration also brought more serious matters to mind for Sharmagne Goff.

"It really makes you stop and think about those who are over in the Middle East right now," Goff said.

The ceremony increased the pride Joe Thor of Jonesboro already felt for his father, a Vietnam War veteran.

"The costumes were wonderful, there was great precision as usual," Thor said. "It makes you proud to be an American."

Thor's son Greg Thor, 13, and Greg Thor's 14-year-old friend Spencer Bisch were also impressed. They've both given thought to joining up.

"When I'm 17," Greg Thor said.

"I'll be right there next to him," said Bisch.

After the ceremony the audience watched a reenactment of part of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta and of the World War II Break Out from Normandy.

On Saturday night the Army Birthday Ball in Atlanta will conclude a week of events connected to the Army birthday celebrations.