SALEM, Mass., - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation designating the city of Salem as the birthplace of the National Guard during a ceremony held here in city hall today.
The governor was joined at the ceremony hosted by Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll by numerous state and local officials, veterans groups and members of the Massachusetts National Guard.
“For a community that has so much history, we didn’t think it was possible to add to it,“ said Driscoll. “But certainly it was, by having Salem recognized as the birthplace of the National Guard.”
Driscoll said having the city officially acknowledged as the birthplace of the National Guard is very special, particularly now when the Guard is playing such a large role in defending our country.
The origins of the National Guard, and the United States Army in its earliest form, are traced back the creation of the North, South and East Regiments which were formed by legislative act of the Massachusetts Bay General Court on December 13, 1636. This date is recognized as the birthday of the National Guard.
Members of the East Regiment held their first muster on Salem Common in April 1637, which began the foundation for what would become the Army National Guard. The four oldest units in the United States Army serve in the Massachusetts National Guard today and units traces its regimental lineage to the Salem Militia: the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Cavalry Regiment, the 101st Field Artillery Regiment and the 101st Engineer Battalion.
Rep. John Tierney was among the officials in attendance and said he was impressed with how well the Guard has dealt with the burden of frequent service, locally and overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are very proud,” he said. “The National Guard does so much for this country.”
Tierney’s sentiments were echoed by Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.
“We are the nation’s first, the Massachusetts National Guard,” said Carter. “It is an honor as well as one of the mightiest privileges to participate in this momentous occasion recognizing this wonderful city, where it all began.”
Carter said the Massachusetts National Guard’s long and proud history began in Salem and continues as they serve their neighbors here in Massachusetts and their fellow Americans both throughout our great nation and overseas.
Carter said this day commemorates that spring day in 1637, when citizen soldiers mustered on Salem Common in defense of their community.
“Citizen soldiers, who some 138 years later, would be among the first to muster on Lexington and Concord to defend the beginning of our republic,” said Carter.
“It is an honor for all of us to have Salem as our official home recognized by the Commonwealth," said Carter.
Among the numerous veterans attending was Command Sgt. Maj. Kim Emerling, Military Intelligence Command, U.S. Army Reserve.
Emerling said he felt this was really the home of the U.S. Army as well.
Patrick spoke briefly about the rich history of the National Guard and acknowledged today’s Massachusetts National Guard for their service, sacrifice and clarity of mission and made special note of the more than 1000 members currently serving overseas.
“It is a privilege to be here to acknowledge the origins of the National Guard,” he said.
It was also a privilege to acknowledge what the first militia mustered for civic ideals that have been defined as opportunity, equality and fair play, said Patrick.
The governor said that he was humbled to sign a bill that calls attention to the origins of a commitment to those ideals.
"Massachusetts is the birthplace of our Nation and it is only fitting that an institution designed to protect our Commonwealth and our country, be rooted here as well," said Patrick.
With the conclusion of remarks the crowd gathered close around the governor as, at 2:17p.m., he signed bill HB1145 into law and the National Guard received its official birthplace.