By Massachusetts National GuardApril 5, 2017
SALEM, Mass. - Members of the Massachusetts National Guard, as well as several dignitaries, commemorated the 380th anniversary of the militia's First Muster in Salem, Massachusetts, on April 1.
The celebrants included Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Kim Driscoll, City of Salem; Gen. General Joseph L. Lengyel, chief, The National Guard and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, adjutant general, Massachusetts National Guard -- The Nation's First.
"For over 380 years, members of our community have gathered on this common in an act of collective good," Driscoll said. "We prepared with each other for the defense of each other. This commitment to common purpose has been a long held value in Salem, in our commonwealth and in our country."
With uniformed personnel in formation on the green, the visitors spoke from the gazebo as heavy snow fell upon the common. Though the gazebo was roofed, and seated guests were under tents, the winds invited snow to interact with everyone, not just the rank-and-file troops organized on the green space under the open sky.
"Welcome to the United States of America, land of the free because of the brave," said Baker, as accumulation of white snow contrasted off of his black jacket. "For 380 years, before we even had a nation, Citizen--Soldiers were mustering on this common to defend their community and to defend their freedom. Three hundred and eighty years, this is the history, the legacy and the tradition of the Guard. As your governor, and as commander-in-chief of the Guard here in Massachusetts, on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, I want to express my gratitude and our gratitude for your decision to put on the uniform and serve your country and your community in whatever way makes sense whenever you are called."
The ceremony featured a 19-round artillery salute with ceremonial howitzers as the 215th Army Band of the Massachusetts Army National Guard played Ruffles and Flourishes, a musical tradition originating in Europe and brought to Colonial America.
"I'm so proud of who we are and what makes us unique, and that's all of you," said Lengyel. "It's the citizen part of our Citizen--Soldiers and -Airmen. It is what makes us different. So many times, I hear people talk about the part--time nature of our forces as if it is a weakness. I correct them every time and tell them no, it is a strength. It is the fact that you are teachers and lawyers and doctors and plumbers and truck drivers and citizens of our communities who bring those skill sets to take care of our nation when our nation calls."
The ceremony concluded with those in formation on the common executing a pass and review, led by the 215th Army Band, as Baker and Lengyel rendered a salute to the passing elements. As the troops exited the common, the crescendo of the band's music mixed with the audible flapping of the large American flag overhead to the heavy winds of the snowstorm.
"We feel fortunate to live in a country and a community with such a rich and diverse history, and this green space is testament to our shared desire to preserve and protect the spaces and stories that make Salem special," said Driscoll.