An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Nov. 7, 2023

National Guard’s Heritage Honored at Storied Army Base

By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B. Smith, National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. – In a hallowed corner of Patton Hall at Northern Virginia’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, a journey through the annals of American military history awaits. An officer’s saber from the late 19th century, a World War I-era combat helmet, and a flag that bore witness to the attack on Pearl Harbor stand as sentinels to a remarkable legacy. 

Welcome to The 1636 Room, a treasure trove of nearly 200 unique artifacts curated by the National Guard’s 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia. It’s a living tribute to the nation’s oldest military organization. 

For Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, the room honors the Guard’s heritage and its legacy of “courage, duty, honor and service.”

“The 1636 Room is a tribute to that tradition, a commemoration of a force unlike any other — one that continues to have an impact as 20% of the Joint Force and continues to shape the course of history,” Hokanson said during the ceremony unveiling the exhibit Nov. 1. 

The idea for The 1636 Room originated late last year when Hokanson asked the National Guard Bureau History Office to develop a plan for a heritage space where Guard members could gather for events and social occasions and for others to learn more about the force. 

By spring, he signed off on the history office’s recommendation that Patton Hall would be the ideal spot, said Richard Clark, NGB chief historian.  

“It is centrally located, and it has a rich history of its own,” he added, noting the 3rd U.S. Regiment, as “the oldest regiment in the Army, has a room at Patton Hall, and it seemed appropriate for the oldest U.S. military organization to have a place there as well.”

Honoring the roots of today’s National Guard, the exhibit space is named in tribute to the 1636 Massachusetts Bay Colony militia and boasts an extensive array of strategically positioned artifacts that include framed flags, panel displays, photographs, visual artworks, and replicas. Clark explained each item encapsulates the essence of unique events, remarkable achievements, unit emblems, and historic missions undertaken by different Guard elements.

Army Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, adjutant general of Virginia, said the series of framed pictures showcasing Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division from its beginnings in World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom was a fitting contribution to the room.

“For us on the Virginia side, we carry heavy within the 29th,” said Ring, who attended the ceremony along with nearly 150 senior Guard leaders.

While the photographs are significant for Virginia Guard members, Ring said the room’s spirit can resonate with all Soldiers and Airmen.

“This is a chance for all of us to have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the Citizen-Soldier and Airman tradition of those that came before us,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor to be here today.”

NGB history officials emphasized the room’s purpose extends beyond showcasing history.

There is a canteen, cup and mess kit engraved by Soldiers from New Mexico National Guard’s 200th Coast Artillery during World War II. These very Soldiers later endured the harrowing Bataan Death March, followed by internment in POW camps.

The artifacts represent valor and immense suffering. Of the roughly 1,800 Soldiers from New Mexico who fought in the Pacific Theater, only about half returned at the war’s end.

The history office will continue updating the room as it receives more items representing different aspects of Guard heritage.

“As the National Guard evolves, the room will evolve with it,” said Clark, adding the room “is not a static display. It’s a dynamic space that evolves as states swap out artifacts, and as additional states and territories and District of Columbia identify their contributions.”

In his closing remarks, Hokanson said the room — with the intent and purpose of honoring Guard heritage with unique items from the past — is only the beginning.

“These items are not only part of our history — they are part of our ongoing story,” he said.



Related Articles
Command Sgt. Maj. John. T. Raines, the 13th command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, presented guidance on Soldier readiness at the Chaplains Section Training on May 8, 2024, at the Professional Education Center, Camp Robinson, Arkansas. The chaplains are training to develop spiritual readiness in Soldiers.
Chaplains Address Guard Soldiers’ Spiritual, Mental Health
By Staff Sgt. Daisy Broker, | June 12, 2024
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Army Guard chaplains and their supporting Unit Ministry Teams from throughout the United States refined strategies and tools for boosting Soldiers’ spiritual and mental health May 6-9 at the Army National...

Col. Cathi Cherry, commander of the Professional Education Center; Maj. Gen. Jonathan Stubbs, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard; Lt. Col. Elvin Zapata, oldest Soldier serving at PEC; Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Sgt. Rhett Crandall, youngest Soldier serving at PEC; and Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, director of the Army National Guard, cut the cake at a 50th-anniversary celebration for the PEC on Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas, May 16, 2024. PEC is home to more than 480 courses spanning six battalions to train Army National Guard Soldiers and Department of Army civilians in cybersecurity, human resources, logistics, recruiting and retention, strategy and leader development, and finance.
National Guard Professional Education Center Celebrates 50 Years
By Sgt. 1st Class Christie Smith, | May 20, 2024
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Fifty years ago, the Army National Guard identified a need to provide ongoing training to the Soldiers and civilians who worked for the Guard full time, keeping units and armories running between...

Brig. Gen. B. Uuganbayar, left, deputy director of the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency, presents a commemorative anniversary plaque to Australian Maj. Gen. Scott Winter, deputy commanding general - strategy and plans for the U.S. Army Pacific, during the Gobi Wolf 2024 opening ceremony at the Governor’s Palace in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 7, 2024. Gobi Wolf is an annual joint exercise coordinated by the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Army Pacific that focuses on interagency coordination within Mongolia, as well as foreign humanitarian assistance during a large-scale natural disaster.
Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024 Begins in Heart of Mongolian Steppe
By Capt. Balinda O’Neal, | May 8, 2024
CHOIBALSAN, Mongolia - Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024, a multinational civil and military training exercise, commenced with an opening ceremony and expert academic discussion in the Dornod Province capital city of Choibalsan May...