Today we celebrate the 280th Birthday of the U.S. National Guard. In 1636, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem made a declaration that any able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia. It simply stated that citizen-soldiers who assembled for military training could be and would be called upon to fight when needed. This was the first continuous militia to be established by a government in North America, with members participating in training even when there was no active threat to the colony.
The National Guard evolved through U.S. history from individual state militias into the national organization it is today. The National Guard is still made up of citizen-soldiers and airmen, who hold civilian jobs or attend college while still maintaining their military training.
A turning point in the history of the National Guard was the events of September 11, 2001. Guardsmen were called up in unprecedented numbers by both their States and the Federal government to both provide security at home and to play a more active role in combatting terrorism abroad.
Long known as “weekend warriors,” the members of the National Guard have become so much more than that. Besides their dual state and federal missions, our Guardsmen and women are a diverse group. There are those that are active duty, others that are more traditional Guard who are activated when needed; some deploy, many go away for trainings, and still others spend time apart from their families just like their active duty counterparts. Some live in their communities and drill there, others drill states away. Some deploy with units, others deploy as individual augmenters. The Guard’s motto “Always ready, always there” is clearly so much more than just a slogan.
The National Guard provides relief and protection during natural disaster, trains regularly to uphold high standards of readiness, and also deploys to far-away countries to protect the United States’ interests abroad. Although America’s development and expansion has made it a global military force, the National Guard still remains a community cornerstone – as it did when it was created on December 13, 1636.