By Brig. Gen. Robert Whittle and Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge
Today we celebrate the 382nd birthday of the National Guard — the oldest serving military organization in America.
The Massachusetts General Court issued an order on Dec. 13, 1636, to organize a standing Army for the protection of their families and towns.
With that order, what we now know as America’s National Guard was born. The idea was simple: establish an Army of citizen-Soldiers who could be called upon to fight when needed.
In 1636, that standing Army defended Massachusetts Bay. Today, our National Guard answers the call of both state and nation and deploys overseas to combat terrorism and to protect and defend the freedoms we hold dear.
In addition to answering the call to conflict, today’s citizen-Soldiers and Airmen respond to natural disasters and emergencies, reconstruction missions and counternarcotic operations each year, keeping millions of Americans safe.
After three and a half centuries, the National Guard continues to accomplish the unique dual mission of serving community and country. The United States military is the greatest in the world due in large part to our National Guard service members and their contributions and selfless service to America.
Happy birthday, National Guard. We are proud to serve with you.
(Editor’s note: Whittle is the acting Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Breckinridge is the MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major.)