On December 13, 1636, local militia from the Massachusetts Bay colony were organized into three regiments (North, East and South) to defend against escalating violence with the Pequot tribe. Descendants of those three regiments still exist today as the National Guard’s 181st and 182nd Infantry; 101st Engineer Battalion and 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery (National Guard), respectively.
Since that day, the Guard has come to epitomize the citizen soldier. It is unique among the uniformed services because its Soldiers have two distinct – but equally important – responsibilities. And they excel at both.
At home, National Guard units serve their states. They are experts in homeland security and disaster relief, and are often the first responders when cataclysmic emergencies threaten the lives of American citizens.
When called to fight for their country, the Guard’s Soldiers are equally proficient. If you were to travel to Iraq or Afghanistan, it would be nearly impossible to tell the Guard units from their active duty counterparts. They fight, they train, and they sacrifice as front line troops. Their record has been, in the words of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, “magnificent.” (NG)
It would be difficult to say which image of the National Guard is more enduring – a Guard Soldier pulling a frightened child from harm’s way after a local disaster, or a deployed unit on patrol in Afghanistan. It probably doesn’t matter, because each is a true reflection of the Guard today.
Just as their predecessors did, who were called to duty 373 years ago, so do the Soldiers of 2009 live up to the National Guard motto: Always ready. Always there.