By Army National Guard Lt. Col. James Sahady
Massachusetts National Guard
BOSTON (12/20/11) – The Massachusetts House of Representatives chamber was filled with a sea of uniforms, Dec. 13, as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Sec. Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and Massachusetts National Guard adjutant general, Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Carter, proudly walked down the center isle to celebrate the 375th birthday of the first military unit in the nation - the Massachusetts National Guard.
“We honor the history and the legacy of the [Guard] in this state and every state today, as well as those men and women that are serving abroad in theaters of combat,” Patrick said. “The dignity of the service of the members of the National Guard and the sense of service that you bring is an inspiration to all of us and I wanted to be here personally to tell you how much you inspire me.
“Today I am proclaiming the official day of the celebration of the 375th anniversary of the Massachusetts National Guard!”
On Dec. 13, 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony authorized the founding of three militia companies, to be known as the North, South and East Regiments, to defend the colony against all threats.
This was the first time a colony had formally established a militia.
Other colonial settlements in North America such as those in Florida, Virginia, and New Mexico utilized military protection to allow settlers safe passage and defend against aggressors, but Massachusetts proved to be the first to have its government establish and raise a militia of continuous service.
That legal precedent and record of service has remained continuous and unbroken, no matter the change in each unit’s function as a part of the militia or National Guard.
This distinction qualifies it as the birthplace of the militia in the United States. With the North, South, and East Regiments established, its exemplary military tradition continues through this day with four Massachusetts National Guard units: The 101st Engineer Battalion, the 101st Field Artillery Regiment, the 181st Infantry Regiment, and the 182nd Infantry Regiment. The 182nd Infantry Regiment is currently serving in Afghanistan.
“Today’s birthday reminds us that the National Guard has a long and proud heritage. The first militia was formed before the country and continues to have a key role in the defense of our commonwealth and nation,” Carter said. “The Guard is a well-organized, well trained and well-equipped force with the same intent as the original militia that was formed in 1636; To protect our homeland, deter aggression and defend the freedoms we cherish and that so many generations of Service members have fought for.”
Since 9/11, the Massachusetts National Guard has deployed nearly 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Global War on Terror and Overseas Contingency Operations.
Today, Citizen-Soldiers continue to answer the commonwealth’s call to render aid and provide support during emergencies at home or conflicts abroad.