At the top of the official Department of the Army emblem are the words, “This We’ll Defend.” This is the official Army motto.
As we get ready to celebrate the birthday of our great Nation, I thought it appropriate to reflect on these words and their history.
When the Continental Army was established in June 1775, its purpose was not yet to achieve independence, but to defend American liberty. As articulated in the orders appointing him as General and Commander in Chief, Congress commissioned George Washington to lead “the Army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised, by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said Army for the Defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof.” (From the Journals of the Continental Congress, 17 June 1775.)
On July 4, 1776, we became an independent nation. The phrase “This We’ll Defend” traces back to the founding of the “War Office” of the Continental Congress the following year during the Revolutionary War. The War Office was established by Congress to be its intermediary with the Army and the states, and manage the staff functions that supported the Army in the field.
For those of us in uniform, the motto remains as relevant today as it did at our Nations’ founding. The pronoun “We” reinforces our collective or team effort, and “Defend” remains our Army’s main mission. The Army continues this pledge into the future, as we have done for 237 years.
As our Nation celebrates independence with parades, picnics and fireworks, let us also remember the courage and commitment of our Soldiers, Civilians and Families. Over 92,000 Soldiers remain deployed in harm’s way and another 94,000 are forward stationed in nearly 150 countries around the world. It is because of them that we enjoy Freedom and our American way of life.
Happy 4th of July!