National Guard leaders, members of Congress, congressional staff and others gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate the National Guard’s 377th birthday during a reception on Capitol Hill. Held in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building, the event sponsored by the National Guard Educational Foundation was an early celebration. The actual birthday is Friday. Click here to see photos.
The birthday marks the day that the first militia units were formed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature. Three units were required by the state government to report to duty and defend the colony. Now, according to Guard officials, an average of 3,000 Guardsmen are on duty each day.
Approximately 300 people heard from Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the NGAUS chairman, Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Command Chief Master Sgt. Mitch Brush, the Guard’s senior enlisted member, and Rep. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind.
Danner thanked the men and women of the Guard for their service, and got a round of applause when he noted that NGAUS is debt free after paying off the mortgage to the National Guard Memorial this year.
Grass mentioned what he says are the three central missions of the National Guard—the war fight, homeland support and building partnerships. He noted that this is the 20th anniversary of the State Partnership Program and the 21st anniversary of the Youth ChalleNGe program. Both help build Guard ties with communities at home and overseas.
Grass also thanked the adjutants general for their support. The TAGs, many of whom were in town to meet with senior Guard leadership this week, do a great job “recruiting, training and keeping” quality Guardsmen, he said.
The crowd had a chance to meet a few of those quality troops when Brush introduced the National Guard’s soldiers and airmen of the year. Brush said the group not only stood out individually, but represented the caliber of men and women serving in the Guard across the country.
Visclosky returned to the State Partnership Program, saying it was especially important for the Guard to pass along its ideals and traditions in countries where communism once flourished and where the military does not adhere to human rights. The Guard, he said, shows them.