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(Enlarge) Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman hold the county's proclamation of "U.S. Army Day" during a cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate the Army's 237th birthday at The Mall in Columbia on June 14. (Photo by Jen Rynda)

Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman celebrated the Army's 237th birthday in a cake-cutting ceremony at The Mall in Columbia on June 14.

The event was one of several off-post activities that allowed community members to have an active role in the Army celebration.

"It was very important to have Howard County Executive Ken Ulman be a part of this celebration," Rothstein said after the ceremony. "The event at the Columbia mall is a great example of how Fort Meade and our surrounding communities can work together. It gave me the opportunity to thank the Howard County community for their support to Fort Meade and our military families. It also allowed the community to have an active role in the celebration of the Army's 237th birthday."

In his remarks before the ceremony, Ulman thanked the military's men and women "for everything you do to keep us safe."

Ulman said the county works "very hard with our friends at Fort Meade, as we've been asked to play a leading role in our national security through the U.S. Cyber Command. ... We consider ourselves to be tremendous and important partners in the work that is done at Fort Meade."

The county executive also read a proclamation declaring "U.S. Army Day" in Howard County.

Rothstein and Ulman later joined Master Sgt. John Harrington and Staff Sgt. Chad Vega, the oldest and youngest Soldiers respectively, in First Army Division East, in cutting the ceremonial cake.

After the event, Katie Essing, senior general manager of the Columbia mall, spoke of the community partnership.

"We know that Fort Meade is very important to the Howard County community and the mall is a perfect venue for Fort Meade," she said. "It is wonderful for us to host this event."

Tanika DeSouza, co-owner of Dessert Affairs, a retailer at the mall, prepared the cake and hundreds of cupcakes for the families who attended the event.

"I feel honored. This is a terrific event, especially to be able to give back to the military," said DeSouza, whose deceased father was a Marine.

The ceremony kicked off the opening of a three-day exhibit of displays at the mall by the Fort Meade Museum, First Army Division East, the Columbia Recruiting Company of Fort Meade's 1st Recruiting Brigade, Fort Meade's Exceptional Family Member Program, the Howard County Family Support Service, the Howard County Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning, and the Maryland Coalition of Family for Children's Mental Health.

"It makes perfect sense for us to be a part of this," said Robert Johnson, director of the Fort Meade Museum, as he stood in front of an exhibit about the installation's history. "We tell the story and history of Fort Meade. Both are a reflection on the past as we celebrate the Army's birthday."

John Grantman, who served as a sergeant in Vietnam for two years, attended the ceremony with his wife, Portia. The couple, who live in Columbia, had Army dog tags made at one of the exhibits.

Grantman said celebrating the Army's birthday brought back memories of his military service.

"I served very proudly," he said.

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