Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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December 13th
The National Guard
The National Guard is the oldest part of our nation’s armed forces, tracing its roots to the time when the thirteen original English colonies required able-bodied male citizens to train and be ready to defend their communities. The Guard observes December 13 as its birthday because on that day in 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized scattered militia companies from villages around Boston into three regiments. Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution lay down guidelines providing for the National Guard.

Today’s Guard is made of more than 460,000 men and women – businessmen, factory workers, teachers, doctors, police officers – who volunteer on a part-time basis. Each state and territory, as well as the District of Columbia, has its own National Guard. Army National Guard units are part of the U.S. Army. Air National Guard units are part of the U.S. Air Force.

Guard members have a unique dual mission that requires them to swear an oath of allegiance to their state and to the federal government. In times of peace, the governor of each state commands its National Guard and can call it into action if needed. Guard members stand ready to battle fires or help communities deal with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other crises.

The second part of the Guard’s job is to defend America and respond to national emergencies. During times of war or national need, the president can call up the National Guard. In wartime Guard members constitute a large portion of the U.S. fighting force.

Guard personnel pour much time and energy into training. Units take part in efforts ranging from blood drives to the fight against terrorism. The motto of these citizen soldiers is “Always ready, always there.”

American History Parade
1636
The Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes militia units into three regiments, an event the National Guard recognizes as its birthday.

1862
Confederate forces win a major victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

1918
Woodrow Wilson becomes the first U.S. president in office to visit Europe when he arrives in France for the post–World War I peace conference.

2003
U.S. forces capture former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, pulling him from a “spider hole” under a farmhouse near his hometown of Tikrit.
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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