Born from humble beginnings, the National Guard celebrates its 375th birthday with value and vigilance.
The military organization we know today as the National Guard came into existence with a direct declaration on December 13, 1636. On this date, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem, for the first time in the history of the North American continent, established that all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia. The North, South, and East Regiments were established with this order. The decree excluded ministers and judges. Simply stated, citizen-soldiers who mustered for military training could be and would be called upon to fight when needed.
To this day, the National Guard still consists of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen providing protection from natural disaster, training regularly to uphold high standards of readiness, and also deploying to far-away countries to protect the United States’ national interests abroad. Although the country’s growth and expansion has made it a large military force around the world, the National Guard still remains a community cornerstone – just as it did when it was given birth on December 13, 1636.
Massachusetts proved to be the first entity to have its government establish and raise a militia. Nor did these other colonies’ militia service remain continuous. The tie to legal precedent in this manner remains to this day. That record of service has remained continuous and unbroken, no matter the change in each unit’s function as a part of the militia or the National Guard.
This distinction qualifies it as the birthplace of the militia in the United States. With the North, South, and East Regiments established, its exemplary military tradition continues through this day with four Massachusetts National Guard units – the 101st Engineer Battalion, the 101st Field Artillery, the 181st Infantry Regiment, and the 182nd Infantry Regiment. The tradition born in Salem continues today.