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77TH ARMY BAND
 FORT SILL, OKLAHOMA -

Fort Sill celebrates 239 years of freedom

By Jeff Crawley, Fort Sill Cannoneer
77th Army Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Jeff Crawley
Warrant Officer 1 Jac'kel Smalls conducts the 77th Army Band as it performs Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" with cannon fire from B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery "Fort Sill Salute Battery" July 2, outside McNair Hall.
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 9, 2015) -- "Our Army's history is our nation's history," said Brig. Gen. Christopher Spillman, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA. "The history of the United States Army is deeply woven into the fabric of our nation, and throughout America's most difficult periods."

Spillman was guest speaker at the Fort Sill Independence Day celebration July 2, outside McNair Hall.

The 8 a.m. ceremony featured recognition of the 50 states and five U.S. territories, the U.S. citizenship of a Soldier, and playing of the "1812 Overture" complete with cannon fire.

In his invocation, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Clark Rabe, 434th Field Artillery Brigade chaplain said: "Oh, mighty and eternal God, we give you thanks for this nation's freedom and for those individuals throughout history who have lived and died for our independence."

During his speech, Spillman spoke about how Soldiers since the Revolutionary War have fought oppression to secure freedom.

"Brave militia men fought battles of will to secure freedom and to defeat injustice and to unshackle a new nation from the chains of a tyrannical power."

It is especially important to reflect on July 4, on a time when our founding fathers proclaimed that citizens of the colonies were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the general said.
"Our belief in independence has not wavered over these many years," Spillman said. "Our Soldiers, families, civilians, all American citizens, continue to do what is required to maintain our freedom."

NATURALIZATION CEREMONY
As part of the celebration, Pfc. Jorge Morales, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. Richard Rogers, Citizenship and Immigration Service officer, administered the oath of allegiance to Morales, who is from Guatemala City.

Morales, a food service specialist, said he was happy to become a citizen and that he had been waiting for it for eight years.

"I am so proud to be part of the best country in the world," he said.
Morales said he enlisted in the Army because he wanted to give back to America because it has given him a lot.

Morales' supervisor Sgt. Fabian Hunter, Garcia Dining Facility first cook, described him as a motivated Soldier with a positive attitude, who is a hard worker and who learns quickly.

STATES, TERRITORIES RECOGNIZED
Program narrator John Starling, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, spoke about the nation's origins in the fight for independence.

"It was in that now famous year of 1776, that 56 men of courage and vision created our birth certificate -- the Declaration of Independence," said Starling. "In doing so, they established a nation dedicated to the principles of human rights and the spirit of liberty."

Starling went on to perform a roll call of the states in order of their statehood. He began with Delaware, which became a state Dec. 7, 1787.

When Oklahoma, the 46th state, was announced the crowd let out enthusiastic Okie hoot and hollers.

OVERTURE
The ceremony culminated with the 77th Army Band performing Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" with B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery "Salute Battery" providing the music's signature cannon fire.

Starling explained how the music was written in 1880, to commemorate the French troop withdrawal from Moscow in 1812, during a harsh winter. The inspiring music personifies how the French abandoned-cannons were used against them during their retreat.

Over the years, the "1812 Overture" has become synonymous with U.S. Independence Day celebrations across America, Starling said.

http://www.army.mil/article/152060/

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