Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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April 23rd
The U.S. Military Reserve
On April 23, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt created a new component within the U.S. Army – the Medical Reserve Corps. In an age when disease and infection killed more soldiers than battle wounds, the new corps of 360 medical professionals stood ready to become active duty officers with the Army in times of conflict.

That corps was the beginning of the U.S. military’s federal reserve force. During the next several years, the Army created additional reserve corps to fight and perform other duties when needed.

Today more than 430,000 Americans serve in the federal military reserve for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. These ready-to-go civilians put on uniforms once a month or more to train and help maintain day-to-day operations for the military. The president can call them to active service anytime to help meet a national emergency. In recent years thousands of reservists have left behind their families, jobs, and personal lives to fight terrorism overseas.

U.S. military reserve troops and National Guard troops perform very similar duties, and National Guard troops are also frequently referred to as “reserves.” The main difference is that the U.S. military reserve is controlled by the federal government. National Guard units answer to state governments, except when called into federal service by the president.

In many ways reservists form the backbone of the U.S. military. Many are highly trained specialists who serve in roles that range from pilots to field doctors to logistics officers. When the nation goes to war, some of the most critical tasks are carried out by reservists. The United States could not engage in a major conflict without these men and women who are ready to go in harm’s way for their country. To be a reservist, it is said, is to be twice a citizen.

American History Parade
1789
President-elect George Washington and his wife, Martha, move into the first presidential mansion, the Franklin House in New York City.

1791
James Buchanan, the fifteenth U.S. president, is born near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

1908
President Theodore Roosevelt signs an act creating the Medical Reserve Corps, the beginning of the U.S. military reserve.

1914
Wrigley Field, originally the home of the Chicago Federals and now the Chicago Cubs, opens.

1962
Ranger 4, the first U.S. spacecraft to reach the moon’s surface, is launched.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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