370th National Guard Birthday

Wednesday December 13, 2006

Known originally as the militia, the National Guard turns 370 years young today.

Origins: In 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which functioned as the colony's legislature, ordered existing militia companies from the towns surrounding Boston to form into three regiments: North, South and East.

The American colonies adopted the English militia system, which obligated all males to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community. This early militia enforced local laws and battled Britain's enemies in America.

The Founding Fathers in the Constitution ratified the existence of and need for the colonial militia by defining their missions: "To execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions."

Congress enacted several militia and defense acts to strengthen the National Guard. The first of these laws, passed in 1792, governed the militia for 111 years of the country's existence. The Militia Act of 1903 created the modern National Guard and affirmed the National Guard as the nation's primary organized combat reserve force. The National Defense Act of 1947 established the Air National Guard as a separate reserve component at the same time it established a separate Air Force.

Today: Now, a force of more than 450,000 men and women serve voluntarily and can be deployed anywhere in the world. Today, more than 50,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are serving overseas as part of the Global War on Terror, and over 9,000 are serving at home in domestic missions such as supporting our Nation's efforts to secure our borders, guarding critical infrastructure, and providing emergency response to our Governors. More than 430 Guard members have died since the Global War on Terror began.

The National Guard will continue to employ all of the modern technology at its disposal at home and abroad. At the core, however, today's National Guard members and yesterday's Minutemen remain the same person: citizens with the conviction that their military service is required to make their nation and communities a safer and better place.

Related Sites:
National Guard's 370th Birthday
National Guard Bureau


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"We simply could not sustain current operations without the National Guard. Your outstanding service as citizen-soldiers comforts those in need and protects our homeland."- Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the occasion of the National Guard's 370th Birthday, Dec. 13, 2006.


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