Spotlight on Your Community: The Home of the Big Red One
by Mandi Verlander, Volunteer, Fort Riley, KS
When you are in the military, home is a vague concept compared to how civilians view it. Home becomes wherever you can all be together. This mentality makes it easier to cope with the stresses and pressures that come with being a part of the military community. Regardless of what difficulties we face, we all love our community because we are proud of where we are, the job we’re doing, and the place we call “home.”
I currently call Fort Riley home with my husband and son. It’s a beautiful post located in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I grew up an Army brat, so I’ve lived on my fair share of military posts and I must admit Fort Riley is one of my favorites. My husband, along with the majority of the inhabitants of Fort Riley, is in the 1st Infantry Division, or as it’s affectionately called, the Big Red One.
It’s the very first unit designated a division, hence the name, and it has played a significant part in every war since WWI. The Big Red One, a film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill, was inspired by the One’s involvement in WWII. This unit has a lot of history and some interesting stories have been thrown in along the way. My favorite says the Big Red One got its name because one of its General’s cut a number one out of his underwear (probably a red pair of Long Johns) and wore it on his sleeve.
Before permanently relocating to Fort Riley, the division was a little spread out and mainly housed in Germany. The post has a lot of history with several monuments located on the grounds. The 1st Division has fun ways of building a sense of pride with post-wide events that have a balance of traditions and modern influences. For instance, in addition to traditional, delicious activities and standard components of the upcoming Apple Festival, static displays of helicopters and Humvees will be popular draws. And, the Calvary unit will be doing a demonstration as well.
Being at Fort Riley has definitely given me a sense of pride in where I am and what I’m doing - one of the greatest benefits of my military family life. And, I’m proud to call Fort Riley “home!”
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