COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The South Carolina National Guard recognized the National Guard's 382nd birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony Dec. 13th at the South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia, South Carolina.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, the adjutant general for South Carolina, presided over the ceremony.

"We're celebrating the service that we're able to give this state and nation," said Livingston.

The National Guard heritage dates back to the thirteen original colonies in North America. The oldest of its units was organized on December 13, 1636, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia. This makes the National Guard the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States, and one of the oldest military organizations in the world.

The National Guard is a dual state and federal organization that excels at homeland response and overseas combat missions. For almost four centuries, no other U.S. military force has the authority, training and proximity to better perform a dual-mission role.

"We couldn't be prouder of the job you do," said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Vickery, South Carolina National Guard command sergeant major. Whether a natural disaster or a deployment, the National Guard has been involved, he added.

Most recently, more than 3,400 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen were activated throughout South Carolina communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in September 2018 providing support to local and state agencies. The Soldiers and Airmen of the South Carolina National Guard have also responded to the historic flooding of 2015, Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain fires in 2016, and in 2017 assisted Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey, Florida and South Carolina for Hurricane Irma, and Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria.

"When our neighbors need us, the National Guard is there," said Livingston.

Additionally, the South Carolina National Guard supports the war-fight, mobilizing around the world to defend the nation. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 20,000 South Carolina National Guard service members have deployed in support of the war fight, with 16 service members paying the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

"We are blessed as a nation, we have great people in this country and state," said Livingston. "Thank you for your service and being the tie to the American people…Happy birthday, National Guard."