On December 13, 2006, the National Guard will celebrate its 370th birthday.
When the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony gathered on December 13, 1636, in the early days of our great nation, the National Guard -- America's first military service -- was born. These first Minutemen answered the call, banding together for the common defense, an effort which grew nationwide to protect towns, states, and ultimately the nation from all enemies, civil, natural, and foreign.
Today, more than 50,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are serving overseas as part of the Global War on Terror. Over 9,000 are serving here at home in domestic missions such as supporting our Nation's efforts to secure our borders, guarding critical infrastructure, and providing emergency response to our Governors.
Not unlike those Minutemen 370 years ago, today's Guard members are citizens who believe that an organized militia is essential to the common defense. With centuries of courage, commitment and tradition behind them, the National Guard proudly remains Always Ready, Always There.
On the occasion of our Birthday, I want to honor the generations of Patriots who have given their lives, including the more than 430 Guard members killed since the Global War on Terror began. I also want to thank the Guardsmen who have served in the past, and the more than 450,000 Citizen- Soldiers and -Airmen serving today, for their dedication and sacrifice. A final thanks goes to the families, employers and Governors of our Guard members. Without their support, our service would be impossible.
H Steven Blum
Lieutenant General, US Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau