Today the U.S. Army celebrates its 242nd birthday of defending the nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. With more than 500,000 soldiers serving all over the world, the U.S. Army is the largest and oldest military branch in the United States. The force was founded on June 14, 1775, by the second Continental Congress to fight the British in the American Revolutionary War. It consisted of troops from all 15 colonies, and was led by George Washington as Commander-in-Chief. Prior to the formation of the army, the colonies relied on the militia consisting of part-time civilian soldiers.

U.S. ArmyThe U.S. Army is older than the country it serves and has gone through numerous transitions throughout the years. For instance, the Vietnam War was a pivotal moment for the U.S. Armed Forces. With the lack of support from the citizens, there was controversy as to why our servicemen were fighting in the war, and many protests broke out. In 1973, the Selective Service announced there would be no more draft calls, and the military would be an all-volunteer force.

Today, the Army as well as other branches use incentives such as education, careers, and bonuses to attract recruits. When it came to assignments, recruits had no say as to where they would be located or what their job would be. The Army decided for them based on their results from the Armed Forces Aptitude Battery Test. Whereas now, recruits still take the annually updated test but the individual gets a number of options on their assignments and location based on the test results and openings.

Gender equality has made a tremendous impact on the military especially the Army. Prior to the women’s rights movement, women only served as support roles such as nurses, secretaries, and administration. As the years passed, laws began to change allowing women to serve in all positions except infantry, armor, and field artillery, which are considered to be combat arms branches. However, that also changed on  May 19, 2017 when Fort Benning graduated the first gender integrated infantry class with 18 women.

The U.S. Army has made incredible strides and continue to do so. In light of the Army’s 242nd birthday here are some fun facts:

  • The Army is the second largest employer.
  • The Army owns so much land that of it were a state, it would be larger than Hawaii and Massachusetts combined.
  • If the Army were a city, it would be the 10th largest city in the U.S.
  • 30/45 presidents served in the Army.
    • 24 Served during time of war.
    • 2 Ranked 5 star general (Washington and Eisenhower).
    • 1 Received the Medal of Honor (Roosevelt).

The Purple Heart Foundation wants to thank all of the soldiers and guardians of freedom for dedicating their lives to protecting our nation. We also want to wish you all a very Happy 242nd Birthday. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed for our freedom. You can show your support for these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure veterans continue to get the support they deserve by donating here.

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