Happy Birthday National Guard
The National Guard celebrated its 376th birthday on Thursday.
The military institution came into existence on Dec. 13, 1636, when the Massachusetts General Court in Salem required that all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia.
It was more than 100 years before the first Tennessee militia mobilization was organized by Capt. Evan Shelby in 1774, according to the Tennessee National Guard. Shelby’s company of 49 militiamen, including his son, Isaac, many prominent citizens of the self-governing Watauga settlement (located in present day Sullivan and Carter counties) were called to service. On Aug. 17, they marched to join the assembling Virginia regiments, marking the first time “Tennesseans” were deployed for war as a militia and stands as the birthday of the Tennessee National Guard.
As the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions, the National Guard continues to provide assistance whenever they are called to duty be it for their state or federal government.
In 1903, important national defense legislation increased the role of the National Guard (as the militia was now called) as a Reserve force for the U.S. Army, according to the National Guard’s official website. In World War I, which the U.S. entered in 1917, the National Guard made up 40 percent of the U.S. combat divisions in France; in World War II, National Guard units were among the first to deploy overseas and the first to fight.
Following World War II, National Guard aviation units, some of them dating back to World War I, became the Air National Guard, the nation’s newest Reserve component. The Guard stood on the frontiers of freedom during the Cold War, sending soldiers and airmen to fight in Korea and to reinforce NATO during the Berlin crisis of 1961-1962. During the Vietnam war, almost 23,000 Army and Air Guardsmen were called up for a year of active duty; some 8,700 were deployed to Vietnam. Over 75,000 Army and Air Guardsmen were called upon to help bring a swift end to Desert Storm in 1991.
Since then, the National Guard has also been called into service all over the world and at home in times of crisis.
More than 50,000 Guardmembers were called up to provide security at home and combat terrorism abroad after the attacks of September 11. The same number responded in support of the Gulf States following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Today, tens of thousands of Guardmembers are serving in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We applaud all of the Guardmembers who have served and are serving their states and country, and who are willing to give of their time to help their fellow man.