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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Public Affairs Office

Date: June 26, 2007
No: 07-22

Natick Soldier Systems Center celebrates Flag Day, Army Birthday with town

Soldiers from Natick Soldier Systems Center joined the Town of Natick Veterans Council at the local veterans' memorial park for ceremonies to celebrate both Flag Day and the Army Birthday. (Photo by Sarah Underhill)

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NATICK, Mass. -- The town of Natick, 20 miles west of Boston, is like many New England communities. It features a large, picturesque town common with colorful flowers, benches, and a gazebo. The town’s streets are lined with mature trees that shade both new and old houses – some of which predate the birth of our nation. It is also about 20 miles south of Lexington and Concord where the “shot heard round the world” was fired signaling the start of the American Revolution.

The town also has a veterans’ memorial park, Moran Park, honoring Natick men and women who both served their country and many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

And the town is also home to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC), a 78-acre research and development facility that employs about 2,000 civilians, contractors, and military personnel who focus their efforts on developing the world’s best food, clothing, shelters, airdrop, and Soldier support items.

In short, the town of Natick is stereotypical of the type of Americana depicted by Norman Rockwell.

And because of that, the NSSC Soldiers attached to the Headquarters Research and Development Detachment (HRDD) decided to approach the Natick Veterans Council about a community outreach effort on June 14 to celebrate both Flag Day and the Army Birthday.

The town’s veterans’ officials embraced the idea and the two groups moved forward.

At 6:30 a.m., on June 14, under the leadership of Capt. Tom Bloomfield and 1st Sgt. Fred Giles, the HRDD Soldiers stood at attention at Moran Park for a flag raising ceremony as traffic flowed by and curious drivers slowed to assess the activity.

A Natick police officer stopped traffic while the Soldiers were called to present arms as Old Glory ascended the flagpole, and while a recorded bugle sounded reveille.

Following the ceremony, the HRDD Soldiers spent a few moments tidying up Moran Park giving it that crisp, spit-polished look associated with the military.

At the garrison, the celebration continued at 11 a.m. Remarks by Col. Gaston Bathalon, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), preceded a cake cutting by the oldest and youngest USARIEM Soldiers - Maj. William Latzka and Pfc. Adam Cross - while employees looked on.

The troops then moved back to Moran Park for a noon event. NSSC personnel joined Natick Veterans’ Council and town officials in providing brief remarks honoring our flag, our Army, and Natick’s veterans. Col. Beau Freund, USARIEM commander and the military deputy of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, provided the keynote speech on behalf of Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown, NSSC commanding general.

At 4:30 p.m., the HRDD Soldiers once again assembled at Moran Park for retreat. Natick veterans representing the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, and WWII joined the NSSC Soldiers in this final military ceremony of the day.

HRDD commander Bloomfield noted that the U.S. Army, formed on June 14, 1775, is older than the United States itself which notes July 4, 1776, as its birthday. June 14, he said, happens to coincide with Flag Day, when the national flag was adopted in 1777.

“We decided to hold the celebration of these important days off post to show our solidarity with the town and its veterans,” said Bloomfield. “The Natick community has been very supportive of its veterans, as my unit has witnessed during celebrations on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Independence Day.”

John MacGillivray, Natick’s director of veterans services and one of the speakers for the noon event, thanked the Army for supporting the event.

“Today, we’re here to show reverence to the flag and to honor those 99 vets from Natick who died in their service to our nation.”

He said that Moran Park “is a sacred place to us.”

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.