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VIDEO: National Guard celebrates 385th birthday

Idaho Army National Guard soldiers run gauntlet of the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility on the Orchard Combat Training Center. (Thomas Alvarez/National Guard)
December 13, 2021

The U.S. National Guard is celebrating its 385th birthday on Monday and recognizing its mission motto to be “always ready, always there.”

The National Guard released a video honoring the birthday. “For 385 years, the National Guard has kept its promise to America: remaining Always Ready, Always There. Happy Birthday, National Guard!” the service said along with the video.

The Army National Guard released their own video, saying, “Happy 385th birthday to the National Guard! Trained, equipped, and ready to go since 1636.”

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, sent a letter to National Guard members last week. “It is our people who have made every mission possible –every rescue from a flood, every mile of cleared debris, every wildfire evacuation, every conflict we have fought on behalf of our Nation. Each of you –our soldiers, Airmen, and the families who support us—are the reason we are Always Ready, Always there.”

Also on its birthday, the National Guard reported more than 300 Kentucky National Guard members were deployed to assist in the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes that swept through the Midwest over the weekend, killing more than 80 Kentuckians. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear expects that more than 100 Kentuckians have been killed in the storms.

“On our birthday, we’re doing what we’ve been doing for 385 years, around the world, and right here at home, Always Ready, Always There,” the National Guard said in response to the mobilization.

National Guard members recently mobilized in at least four states to assist hospitals with staffing shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was recently sparked by the new Omicron variant over the past month.

The inception of the National Guard traces its start to the beginnings of the first militia regiments organized in North America, predating even the United States of America itself. On Dec, 13, 1636 at the direction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court, those militia regiments were organized, according to the National Guard’s service history.

The modern descendants of those first militia regiments — the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – hold the distinction of being the oldest military units in the U.S.

The Militia Act of May 8, 1792, under the auspices of the newly formed U.S. Constitutional government, permitted those militias organized before that date to retain their “customary privileges,” under the new nation’s military order. Subsequent laws, such as the Militia Act of 1903, the National Defense Act of 1916 solidified the National Guard’s position as having those military units older than the country itself.