Minnesota celebrates oldest military branch's 376th birthday
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Dec. 13, 2012, marks the 376th birthday of the National Guard. It is a day to reflect on the organization’s great accomplishments, its contributions to our nation’s history and its future posture both domestically and around the globe. Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard celebrated the proud history of their organization, Dec. 13, at the Veteran’s Service Building in Saint Paul.
The Association of the United States Army, Gen. John W. Vessey Jr. Chapter, provided the birthday cake and displayed a banner for well wishers to sign which will be sent to a unit serving overseas. AUSA is a 501c educational organization that is designed to educate the American people about the service, missions, contributions and sacrifices of their service members. “We lobby on your behalf,” said Chapter President, Army Col. Don Kerr, retired. “Membership is under $30 and is open to everyone.”
The National Guard's roots date back to 1636, when colonial militias made up of ordinary citizens would put down their plows and pick up weapons to protect families and towns from hostile attacks. Today, citizen-soldiers in Minnesota and across the country hold civilian jobs or attend college while maintaining their military training part time, always ready to defend the American way of life in the event of an emergency.
The Minnesota National Guard’s Vice Chief of Staff Air, Col. Loren Hubert gave a presentation on National Guard history and the significance of the minuteman figure. “This has become our symbol,” Hubert explained. “Draped over his plow is his field coat. He has donned his militia coat instead and has taken up his powder horn and musket and he is leaving the plow behind to defend, which is what the National Guard has done for 376 years.”
The birthday cake was cut and served by a soldier and an airmen of the Minnesota National Guard, Army Sgt. Joshua Vang, 1/34th Brigade Special Troops Battalion headquarters and Air Force Staff Sgt. Bradley Rekstad, 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. After introducing the honorary cake cutters and thanking the attendees Command Sgt. Maj. Bruce Stowe concluded the celebration.
The unique dual mission: serving both community and country.
The National Guard serves both state and federal governments. While the Guard originally focused on protecting local communities, it eventually grew into a force that complements the Active Duty force when help is needed anywhere in the world. The biggest difference compared to other branches is that while Guard units are combat-trained and can be deployed overseas, they are just as likely to serve in their home communities.
As a community-based organization, the National Guard can rapidly respond to any natural or manmade disaster saving lives, easing human suffering and protecting property. During local emergencies, Guard units assist residents endangered by storms, floods and fires. Most recently, more than 11,900 National Guard members from 19 states responded to recovery efforts on the East Coast as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Guard units deployed overseas may experience combat. Others may use expertise gained in civilian careers to build schools and hospitals, train local peacekeepers or teach local farmers how to use land more efficiently. After more than 10 years of combat overseas and responding to multiple disasters at home, the National Guard has never been more trained, equipped and capable of protecting our nation and fellow citizens. Since 9-11, National Guard citizen-soldiers and airmen have been mobilized more than 700,000 times in support of the overseas and domestic missions. More than half of Guard members are combat veterans. In that same period 25,000 Guard members from Minnesota have deployed to more than 33 countries worldwide.
The Guard does whatever is needed, wherever it is needed.
As Guard members, their primary area of operation is their home state. Any governor or the president can call on the Guard at a moment’s notice. Their versatility enables them to respond to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and more. The Guard always responds with speed, strength and efficiency helping to defend American freedom and ideals. This is what makes the National Guard a unique and essential element of the U.S. military.
As it has done for 376 years, the National Guard stands ready to accept missions at home and abroad that help keep America safe.