Fort Bragg Soldiers and the United Services Organization of North Carolina celebrated the Army’s 238th Birthday and Flag Day during events throughout the week of June 10.

All the events included the local community, from sharing birthday cake, to passing out American flags.

The week kicked off with Soldiers serving birthday cake to patrons at the North and South Post Exchanges and Commissaries June 10.

On June 11, Soldiers handed out miniature American flags in downtown Raleigh, the Raleigh- Durham Airport, Smithfield Outlet Mall and a rest area near I-95 in Fayetteville.

It was an opportunity for people, average citizens, to reach out and just say thank you to the Soldiers for the service provided to the nation, said North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

During the Soldiers’ visit to downtown Raleigh, Forest read a proclamation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the state governor, which made the Army’s birthday an official observance for the state.

“We’re very thankful for the men and women who serve in the Army in North Carolina, who not only sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice, but also come back and bring their Families here and retire in North Carolina,” Forest said.

“That rich tradition continues to go on in our state and we’re thankful for it.”

Those who joined in the celebrations thanked the Soldiers for their service.

“When I got to work, I heard about it and I got pretty excited,” said William Robertson, a waiter at a Raleigh downtown restaurant. “I have tremendous respect for them and what they are doing.”

Soldiers who went into the communities said they were honored and proud to serve their country.

“It’s great to meet everybody,” said Spc. William R. Snyder, a combat engineer in 102nd Sapper Company, 307th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade. “It’s nice to see people who haven’t really seen (the)military and some of the veterans.”

“It’s where we started as a nation, gained our freedom and independence,” Snyder said about recognizing the Army’s birthday. “It means a lot to me to be free and to be an American.”

The Army Ground Forces band performed for the crowds with military-inspired music at many celebratory  events this year which included cake cuttings at the on-post commissaries and exchanges.

The XVIII Airborne Corps also sponsored a cake contest June 12, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville as part of the week-long celebration. Everyone, including spouses and local businesses, were encouraged to enter a cake inspired by the Army’s birthday.

Sheila Hanrick and Elizabeth Schroeder from Kiss-Me-Cakes in Hope Mills, N.C., won this year’s competition.

This was the second year the USO of North Carolina has supported the celebrations. The organization was an integral part in coordinating many of the week’s events, according to John Falkenbury, president USO of North Carolina.

Falkenbury, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, expressed pride in his service as well as for others who have served.

“Being a Soldier is one of the most honorable things I’ve ever done and I love being around Soldiers,” Falkenbury said. “To highlight the senior services birthday, which coincides with Flag Day, is something that is of paramount importance to me.”