Across the United States, if the average person on the street has heard of any place in Harford County, it's Aberdeen Proving Ground.

It's an installation with a rather high profile history, and an awful lot of enlisted personnel passed through its gates over the years. A lot of career military people also spent time on post, as it was long the home of the Army's Ordnance Center and School, a key institution of higher learning for the nation's fighting men and women.

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Aberdeen Proving Ground is an institution worthy of recognition and expressions of public support and, from an official standpoint, this is the week to make those expressions because it's Armed Forces Week.

Over the years at APG, the activities associated with Armed Forces Week and the closely related Military Appreciation Day, have varied in intensity.

Part of the reason for this is the responsibility for the most impressive observances has fallen to the Army. Generally, tours of the post (the non-classified, non-range areas anyway) as well as live fire demonstrations, shows involving guns, tanks and other equipment have been highlights.

The observances have been very well attended by people from Harford County and well beyond. It's not every day a civilian gets to see a tank in action.

Sometimes, however, shows at APG have been scaled back. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, security was a key concern, and for many years after that, the nation's wartime footing precluded many large influxes of civilians onto APG.

This year, federal budget concerns are cited as the primary reason for the post having a scaled back observance, featuring public events of limited appeal, as well as tours of post facilities open to a rather limited clientele.

That's fine for this year. The nation's needs must come first when it comes to the armed forces and the amount of interaction between Aberdeen Proving Ground and the civilians affected by it.

Three years down the road, however, is a different matter entirely. Aberdeen Proving Ground was established in 1917 in the aftermath of Congress declaring war on Germany and the Central Powers in what was then known as The Great War.

The APG centennial is a major event in local history, as well as the history of the Army and needs to be treated as such by everyone from the Aberdeen municipal government to the highest levels of the Pentagon.

Local leaders would do well to start now, if they haven't already done so, in advocating for a major celebration during 2017 of the post's landmark centennial anniversary.

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