NY National Guard marks Army's 245th birthday with a social distancing cake cutting on Friday, June 12

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Major General Ray Shields cuts the Army Birthday cake in 2019 with PFC Amanda Coleman and Sgt. First Class Frank DeThomasis.

LATHAM, NY (06/11/2020) (readMedia)-- The New York National Guard will mark the 245th birthday of the United States Army with a ceremony on Friday, June 12 with a traditional cake-cutting ceremony at New York National Guard headquarters.

This year's ceremony will feature far fewer people due to COVID-19 social distancing considerations, but will still include a cake-cutting ceremony by the oldest and youngest Soldiers present.

The Army National Guard is one of the three components of the United States Army.

WHO: Brigadier General Michel Natali, the Assistant Adjutant General, Army; will preside over the ceremony during which the youngest Soldier, 22-year old Specialist Charles Fetzer, an Old Chatham resident; and the oldest Soldier, Master Sgt. Roger Townsend, age 59, a Latham resident, will cut the Army Birthday Cake.

WHAT: A traditional cake-cutting ceremony commemorating June 14, 1775, which the United States Army considers its birthday. On that date, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the New England colonial militia troops assembled outside of Boston to confront British troops there; creating the Continental Army.

Traditionally the oldest Soldier present joins the youngest Soldier in cutting the Army Birthday cake. The older Soldier represents the history and traditions of the Army while the young Soldier represents its future.

Because of Social distancing requirements, only a few Soldiers will be physically present. The ceremony will be taped and posted online for other Soldiers to view later. Instead of serving the cake, cupcakes representing pieces of the cakes will be available in a central location for people to sample later.

WHERE: New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Headquarters, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham N.Y., 12110

WHEN: 1 p.m. Friday, June 12. The ceremony will start precisely at 1 p.m. and will not last long.

Coverage opportunities:

Reporters can interview New York Army National Guard Officers and Soldiers present.

For access to this secure military facility reporters should contact the Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Office at 518-786-4581.

The Army Birthday:

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the rebellious colonies did not possess an army. The revolutionaries fielded a force of colonial troops cobbled together from various New England militia companies. They had no unified chain of command, and although Artemas Ward of Massachusetts exercised authority by informal agreement, officers from other colonies were not obligated to obey his orders.

The American volunteers were led, equipped, armed, paid for, and supported by the colonies from which they were raised.

In the spring of 1775, this "army" was about to confront British troops near Boston, Massachusetts. The revolutionaries had to re-organize their forces quickly if they were to stand a chance against Britain's seasoned professionals.

Recognizing the need to enlist the support of all of the American colonies, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress appealed to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to assume authority for the New England army.

Reportedly, at John Adams' request, Congress voted to "adopt" the Boston troops on June 14, although there is no written record of this decision.

Also on this day, Congress resolved to form a committee "to bring in a draft of rules and regulations for the government of the Army," and voted $2,000,000 to support the forces around Boston, and those at New York City. Moreover, Congress authorized the formation of ten companies of expert riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, which were directed to march to Boston to support the New England militia.

George Washington received his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army the next day, and formally took command at Boston on July 3, 1775.