The All American culture is steeped in history and symbolism. The 82nd Airborne Division's traditions are at the heart of its identity. The maroon beret, the Double A patch, the “All The Way” slogan — 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers cleave to these customs. They cherish their meaning. They define the 82nd Abn. Div.'s 100-year journey and serve as a roadmap for the next 100 years.
Perhaps no tradition is dearer than the one the 82nd Abn. Div. has observed this month: All American Week. The first All American Week was held in 1986. That inaugural bash commenced with a four-mile run and ended with a Division review, with sporting competitions and a Division memorial sandwiched in between. Sound familiar?
There have been a few changes over the past 31 years, but, for the most part, the structure of All American Week remains unchanged.
Here are a few of the more memorable moments in All American Week history:
1987: The new Division Memorial is incorporated into the AAW Memorial Ceremony
1994: A cloud of dark tragedy hangs over AAW. Just two months removed from the Green Ramp disaster, a mid-air collision and subsequent ground collision at Green Ramp that killed 24 paratroopers, AAW included a solemn remembrance of the lives lost to the worst training accident in 82nd Abn. Div. history.
2001: One month before AAW, Maj. Gen. Vines, AA6, prompted outrage by eliminating the popular game pushball from the sporting events. Vines felt pushball, which quite literally involves two teams pushing an enormous ball across a field, to be too dangerous.
2003: With most of the 82nd Abn. Div. in Iraq, AAW is cancelled for the first time since its inception. AAW would be cancelled three more times due to Global War on Terror deployments: 2007, 2010 and 2012.
2005: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld attended AAW and spoke at the pass in review.
2006: The new 82nd Abn. Div. GWOT Memorial is incorporated into the Division Memorial Ceremony.
2008: President George W. Bush attended AAW and spoke at the pass in review.
2011: For the first time since 2006, the entire 82nd Abn. Div. was home from combat for AAW.
2014: AAW includes International Paratrooper Day for the first time, where our airborne siblings from Poland, Spain, Canada, France, Chile, Denmark and the United Kingdom were briefed on the 82nd Abn. Div.'s capabilities and operations.
2015: The traditional pass in review at Pike Field is replaced with an Airborne Review at Sicily Drop Zone, inclusive of an airborne operation.
2016: The Combat Training Memorial, honoring more than 220 paratroopers killed while training for combat, was unveiled during the Memorial Ceremony.
This year, the 82nd Abn. Div. made its own history with the inaugural Sunset Fun Run on Tuesday and the Lethality Demonstration on Thursday.