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Commitment, strength, a sugary dessert and some presidential levity made for a party atmosphere at the Pentagon courtyard as the Army celebrated its 239th birthday June 19.

Remarks from Army senior leadership and guest speaker Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work preceded a mass reenlistment and the presentation of a massive birthday cake, but the frosting on the celebration may have been a courtyard mini-race pitting the five Washington Nationals racing presidents.

Before big-headed chief executives Teddy, Tom, George, Abe and Robert were cut loose to race toward Pentagon immortality, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, took a serious tone about the men, women and families who make up today’s Army.

“I think about the sacrifice that goes on everyday by our families supporting their loved ones; the men and women, who support this great Army of ours because they believe in liberty and freedom,” Odierno said. “That’s what today is about. It is about celebrating all of those who were willing to raise their right hands and take an oath to the Constitution of the United States because they believe in this country.”

Moments after his remarks, Odierno reenlisted 13 Soldiers, including 3d U.S. Infantry’s (The Old Guard) Spc. Dilan Michael Yates and Staff Sgt. Karam Sebrih Angulo and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Sgt. 1st Class Chester Carl Duval, Headquarters Command Battalion, U.S. Army.

“They want to continue to be a part of the Army family. That’s what the 239th Army birthday represents,” Odierno said right before the reenlisting the Soldiers.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh told the courtyard crowd of the importance of remembering the events that occurred in Iraq, on the Normandy beaches and at the Civil War battlefields of Virginia, as well as during all battles large and small so the Army story would continue to be told.

“Through the 239 years, generations of American patriots-those we celebrate this very week -during this birthday, have stepped forward in service to this nation, to its people and perhaps most of all, the principles and ideals,” McHugh said. “Time and time again, they said ‘send me.’”   

Other Soldiers reenlisting at the Pentagon birthday salute were Fort Meade’s Sgt. 1st Class Amaka Shelley Brown, Sgt. Laura Elizabeth Whitfield and Sgt. Hector R. Alvarezcarrion. Reenlisting reservists included Spc. Jason C. Anderson, Spc. Ann M. Hassel, Sgt. 1st Class Walter H. Archambo, Sgt. Joseph A. Powell, Spc. Joshua M. Powell and Staff Sgt. Shari L. Stark. National Guard Master Sgt. Angela Martin was also one of the 13 who reenlisted.

Following the remarks and the presentation of the Army birthday cake, the Nat’s presidential racers took to the courtyard sidewalks. Teddy opened up an early lead, but a wide turn down the home stretch resulted in a wipe-out in Pentagon shrubbery allowing George to win the Army birthday foot race.