Soldiers and Airmen gathered at the Tennessee National Guard Headquarters recently to celebrate and honor the 376th Birthday of the National Guard.
Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, held the birthday celebration and cake cutting to remember the long and storied history of the Guard, the oldest component of the Armed forces in the United States.
“Three hundred and sixty seven years ago, local citizens put down their plows and picked up their weapons in defense of this great nation,” Haston said. “They were the citizensoldiers. They were willing to sacrifice their lives at a moment’s notice, and that legacy continues in the citizen-soldiers of today’s National Guard.”
Currently, there are thousands of National Guardsmen deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan to include nearly 500 from Tennessee. Since the start of the Global War on Terror, Tennessee has deployed more than 27,000 soldiers and airmen.
The Guard is also the only service component that has both a federal and a state mission, most noticeably, responding to natural disasters like hurricanes and floods.
“We are an important part of this nation’s defense, and have always been,” Haston said.
Pfc. Zuri Walker from Nashville and a member of the 105th Personnel Services Company, the newest and most junior service member in the crowd, had the honor to cut the cake with a ceremonial saber.
“It was a great honor to be able to participate in the ceremony,” Walker.
“I’m proud to be in such an organization as honorable as this.” Walker is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next fall.
The military organization that is today’s National Guard came into existence on Dec. 13, 1636 when the Massachusetts General Court in Salem, ordered the militia companies around Boston to form militia “regiments.”
The Massachusetts General Court created the North, South, and East Regiments. The regiment would later become the basic unit structure for the Continental Army and all other colonial military organizations. This act is widely considered the birth of the National Guard.