The New York National Guard celebrated the 371st Birthday of the United State's force of Citizen Soldier Thursday, Dec. 13, with a traditional military cake-cutting ceremony.
Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General, joined Private Ashley Corsi, a member of E Company 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation, in cutting a National Guard Birthday cake.
Taluto, who joined the National Guard as an enlisted soldier, has served 42 years, while Corsi, just enlisted in January this year. Traditionally the oldest Soldier present at these events joins the youngest in cutting the cake.
The National Guard traces its roots as an institution back to Dec. 13, 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed legislation regulating the various militia companies to provide for a better defense against the Pequot Indians.
Today the National Guard is part of the Total Army and Total Air Force, serving side-by-side around the world, and conducting homeland security missions and disaster relief operations at home, Taluto said.
"This is the National Guard I always wanted to serve in," Taluto told an audience of 200 gathered at New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters.
"We are moving into a whole new time that is a very exciting time," Taluto said. "Young men and women are joining this force now with greater commitment and enthusiasm than I have seen in some time because they know they are going to do something for their state and the nation."
"It is a great day to celebrate and a great day to be in uniform," Taluto added.
When the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted its first militia regulations all white males between the ages of 16 and 60 were obligated to possess arms and to play a part in the defense of their communities by serving in nightly guard details and participating in weekly drills. After the United States came into existence, state militias would develop out of this tradition.
The Massachusetts Army National Guard's 101st Engineer Battalion and 182nd Infantry Regiment trace their lineage back to these units.
The name National Guard originated in New York.
On July 14, 1825 the American Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette visited New York City on his grand tour of the United States. Lafayette had commanded the French "Garde National de Paris " during the early days of the French Revolution and in honor of that fact the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Regiment of Artillery of the New York State Militia decided to adopt the name National Guard in Lafayette's honor.
The name stuck and by the 1870s the New York State Militia was known as the National Guard New York. Throughout the 19th Century other state militias took that name and in 1903 the Dick Act made that name official.
New York is also the birthplace of the Air National Guard. In 1915 the First Aero Company of the New York National Guard was organized on Long Island. In 1916 it was mustered into federal service in Garden City Long Island and served on the Mexican Border. It was the first Guard flying unit to be called into federal service. Today the 106th Rescue Wing traces its history back to that unit.
The National Guard is both a state and federal military force. In state service the National Guard conducts homeland security missions, assists law enforcement, and provides disaster assistance. In federal service the National Guard fights the nation's wars and conducts federal homeland defense missions.
Since 9/11 more than 6,000 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in security missions throughout the United States.