The United States Army, which turned 242 years old today, celebrates a rich and colorful history older than the country itself. Officially established in 1775, the Army existed an entire year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Since then, the Army has played a role in every major war the United States has been involved in, foreign and domestic. But the Army has contributed to United States history far beyond the battle field.

Of the United States Presidents who served in the military, the majority served in the Army, 13 out of 26 to be specific. George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan all served in the Army.

Though the Army has produced more than its fair share of presidents, it has also produced thousands of influential American men and women throughout history. Of the more than 3,500 military members who’ve received the Medal of Honor, more than 2,500 of those are members of the Army, from the Civil War through the war in Afghanistan. Four of those Army recipients received the Medal of Honor twice.

The Army has a history of giving its nation its protection and sometimes the “last full measure.” It’s given us men and women who continue serve their country through civic engagement, entrepreneurship, support for each other, and exemplification of patriotism. Happy birthday to the U.S. Army!