December 13th marks an important day for our military, and National Guard members particularly. If that giant hunk of a hint didn’t give it away, it’s the National Guard Birthday!
Join us as we give a warm, “Happy National Guard Birthday!” to all of our National Guardsmen.
Even an idiot can guess that the National Guard guards the nation, but what exactly does that mean? In this guide to the National Guard Birthday, you’re going to learn all about the branch and its history, including the details of what its Servicemembers are responsible for and some interesting facts about this military component as a whole. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the National Guard Birthday.
National Guard History
Birthplace of the National Guard
The birthplace of the National Guard is Massachusetts. It was founded in 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony needed a defense against colonization. We know you didn’t pay attention in APUSH, so you can read more in-depth information about the origin of the National Guard and the role it played throughout early American history below.
The Early National Guard
The National Guard was formed over hundreds of years of developments in military organization throughout the founding of America. In the very beginning, it was essentially a method of organizing militias and centralizing their command structure.
The very first militia in America was formed in Spanish Florida to bolster the defense of the colonies. On December 13th, 1636 — which will become a very important date for the National Guard (hint hint, the National Guard Birthday) — the Massachusetts Bay Colony took several different militia units from across the territory and organized them into three specific regiments.
These three regiments were meant to defend the city of Boston and surrounding towns against several threats. The colonies feared the Native American tribes in the area as well as impending encroachment from other European colonists, such as the French and Dutch.
To make sure the Massachusetts Bay Colony had the best chance to survive the race for colonization and expansion, the early National Guard was unofficially formed by creating these three regiments, labeled the North, South, and East Regiments.
The National Guard During the American Revolution
After a final straw divided the colonies from their loyalties to the Crown and fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Army was formed in 1775 to fight against the British. This standing army brought in soldiers from all 13 colonies and relied upon a strong centralized command structure and hosted famous military leaders that are still household names in America today. Their story is one of valor, courage, and victory.
At that point, the National Guard was not yet an official governmental organization. Instead, several militias operated throughout the colonies. Made of men and boys with a thirst for freedom, the militiamen paraded the countryside in an effort to control ground that the British would otherwise be free to capture at will.
These militias were not always successful since they were comprised of regular citizens. More often than not, they were men past prime fighting age or men whom the army rejected for various reasons. While they were not the official primary fighting force of the Continental Congress, they were nonetheless helpful in certain strategic purposes.
For instance, they forced the British to travel and hold up in larger numbers than they ordinarily would have, lest they risk running into a militia with a larger number of men and be beaten back. The Red Coats consequently had to occupy fewer locations than they might have if the militias weren’t patrolling the open countryside.
While the actions of General George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who volunteered his time to help Americans, proved the decisive blow to the British army and won the war for the Colonies, the many militias that patrolled the Revolutionary landscape proved indispensable to the war effort.
The Origin of “National Guard”
The term National Guard originated to honor Marquis de Lafayette, who was seen as a Revolutionary War hero, upon his visit to New York in 1824 when the 2nd Battalion of the 11th New York Artillery began to call itself just that. The term stuck, and the National Guard would begin to cement itself into a more concrete place in the American military.
The 1916 National Defense Act named the National Guard into America’s official military reserve. Further National Defense Acts in 1920 and 1933 each expanded the role of the National Guard and crafted new roles for its members based on their previous involvement in battle and domestic stability.
National Guard Purpose
Few people out there can confidently name all of the military’s parts (especially the reserves). Even fewer can easily describe what each of their responsibilities is or what they actually do to keep your comfortable a** protected while you sit in that chair.
On the National Guard Birthday, it’s important to understand what they do and why they do it. In modern times, the National Guard still provides for the defense of the nation, but what that looks like is slightly different than it was during its early days.
The National Guard is the trickiest component of the military because its name doesn’t exactly tell you what they’re all about like, say, the Air Force — especially since they’re ALWAYS telling you what they do.
The National Guard serves both the U.S. Government and state governors. National Guard deployment can be authorized by either of these two authorities. As such, each state has its own National Guard (and some have Air National Guards).
The National Guard responds to state and national emergencies, from weather disasters encompassing several states to epidemics or pandemics that impact the globe. They’re usually deployed in response to major flooding, earthquakes, and more. The National Guard is also sometimes used as a security force for sensitive national assets, like Guantanamo Bay, or to assist with the local security forces in war-torn regions overseas.
National Guard Response to Hurricane Katrina
The National Guard put boots on the ground just three days after Katrina devastated the south.
The National Guard distributed meals to the displaced, helped in evacuation efforts, and cleared fallen trees and powerlines near high-traffic areas. By the end of their relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard saved approximately 88,000 people via airlift and flew more than 10,200 missions.
Oh, you sent a pack of water to New Orleans after Katrina? How cute. The National Guard airlifted almost 11,000 tons of cargo and supplies to affected areas. That’s what you call service.
National Guard COVID Response & More
When the COVID pandemic started ravaging the health of people on a worldwide scale starting in 2020, the National Guard stepped in. They support citizens by performing nasal swabs and saliva tests in the community and long-term care facilities. Many National Guardsmen were also trained as short-term nursing aides, validated by each state’s Department of Health.
During the Ebola outbreak around 2014, the National Guard was called upon to aid authorities to quarantine individuals in the worst-affected areas of Africa. They also assisted with testing and logistics.
The flexibility of the National Guard makes it a powerful asset to the United States military during unprecedented national medical emergencies.
Is the National Guard Part of the Military?
The National Guard is a part of the military, but it is not considered a military branch like the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force. If you want to get technical with it, the National Guard is an organized militia that is a part of the Federal Reserve Components of the military.
When Is the Army National Guard Birthday?
The National Guard Birthday is December 13th. But when was the National Guard founded, originally? The year was 1636. This was during the time when the Massachusetts Bay Colony took several militias and organized them into three regiments: North, South, and East. The modern version of these regiments still exists today.
How Old Is the National Guard Today?
The National Guard is 385 years old this year.
National Guard Facts
We know that you all are crazy about U.S. facts and history, so this section is dedicated to you guys who can’t get enough information about the National Guard Birthday.
- The National Guard was founded over the course of hundreds of years of changes, but its birthday is celebrated on December 13th, 1636.
- The North, South, and East regiments created by the Massachusetts Bay Colony are still in existence today. North: 1st Squadron, 182nd Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment. South: 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment. East: 101st Engineer Battalion.
- The 1st Squadron, 182nd Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, and the 101st Engineer Battalion are designated as the oldest in the U.S. military.
- The Air Force wasn’t created until 1947, so before then the Air National Guard was under the authority of the Army National Guard.
- The oldest Air National Guard unit is the 1st Aero Company, New York National Guard, and today is named the 102nd Rescue Squadron of the New York Air National Guard.
- The 369th Infantry, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was formed in 1916 as a Black National Guard regiment and sent to France in 1917. The regiment was highly decorated during and after World War I.
- The National Guard size is currently just over 443,000 Servicemembers.
- There are five basic National Guard requirements that you must meet to join the service:
- Be between 17 and 35 years old
- Be a documented U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be at least a high school junior, have a high school diploma, or have a GED certificate
- Achieve the minimum score on the ASVAB test
- Meet their medical, physical, and moral requirements (this one is only possible if you’re NOT a fat, lazy a**hole)
The National Guard is the oldest segment of the U.S. Military, and it carries a lot of history along with it. That means you better treat this day with some d*mn respect!
From its earliest roots as loose groups of militiamen looking to defend their new colonies against external threats to the amazing men and women who respond to disasters and defend America today, the National Guard has answered the call again and again. And guess what? They’ll continue answering that call even if it means serving the many ungrateful b*st*rds out there.
For its birthday this year, let’s reflect on the long legacy of the branch and its immeasurable service to United States and world history.