One week ago, on December 13th, the National Guard celebrated its 375th birthday.
That is not a typo.
On December 13, 1636 the Massachusetts General Court established three regiments (North, South, and East) in order to protect its citizens. According to the General Court, “…all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia.” (ng.mil)
And with that declaration, the citizen soldier was born.
Since then the National Guard (and eventually the Air National Guard) has played a vital role in every major conflict in our nation’s history. “Throughout the 19th century the size of the Regular Army was small, and the militia provided the bulk of the troops during the Mexican War, the early months of the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. In 1903, important national defense legislation increased the role of the National Guard (as the militia was now called) as a Reserve force for the U.S. Army. In World War I, which the U.S. entered in 1917, the National Guard made up 40% of the U.S. combat divisions in France; in World War II, National Guard units were among the first to deploy overseas and the first to fight.”
50,000 troops were mobilized after September 11, 2001. About that number were deployed after Hurricane Katrina.
During OIF/OEF/OND and continuing to this day, the Guard has been continuously utilized as a vital force.
The Guard. Citizen Soldiers from the beginning, protecting the homeland here and abroad. For 375 years its members have stood the watch as the perfect example of neighbor protecting neighbor, and the perfect manifestation of Duty, Honor, Country.
Happy birthday to our National Guard brothers and sisters.