The National Guard turns 385 years old on Dec. 13, and guardsmen across the country are gathering in person and virtually (as COVID-19 restrictions continue) to mark the birthday.
Exhibit unveiling in Salem, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts National Guard has partnered with the National Park Service to showcase the exhibit, “The Nation’s First: A History of the Massachusetts National Guard,” which will officially be unveiled at a birthday cake-cutting celebration on Dec. 13 at the Salem Armory Visitor Center.
Massachusetts State Public Affairs Officer Donald Veitch said the exhibit features artifacts, historical photos and panels designed to represent the distinctive phases of the National Guard’s history — from the first muster to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Cold War and the war on terrorism.
“We have been working on this project for a while, and there are also panels specifically dedicated to disaster response within the state of Massachusetts,” said Veitch, adding that about 100 people are expected to attend. “Masks are required because it’s a somewhat intimate event, but the building will not be at capacity.”
Adjutant Gen. Gary Keefe, Brig. Gen. John J. Driscoll, Brig. Gen. Virginia I. Gaglio, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker are expected to attend.
“We take pride in having the four oldest units of the National Guard here in Massachusetts — as well as Salem being designated the National Guard birthplace — so celebrating this birthday is always a big event for us,” Veitch said. “We hope this exhibit will help people understand more about the National Guard, not only in Massachusetts but throughout the country.”
Ohio’s virtual tribute
For a second consecutive year, the Ohio National Guard will celebrate virtually with messaging on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“In years past, and prior to COVID-19, we held programs on the drill floor and celebrated with birthday cake here at state headquarters in Columbus,” said Stephanie Beougher, state public affairs officer for the Ohio Adjutant General’s office.
Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., who serves as Ohio’s adjutant general, said in a statement that “it’s a great day, a special day in the history of the National Guard, but also an opportunity to celebrate the citizen soldiers and airmen who have served proudly and distinctly throughout those 385 years of history.”
“We, along with the rest of the nation, look forward to the day when we can all gather together [in person] again to do these types of celebrations,” Beougher said.
Virginia remembrance planned at American Legion
Members of the Virginia National Guard will celebrate the 385th birthday at the American Legion Post 146 in Hopewell, Virginia.
“We have been invited to lunch and to cut the cake,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Chumley, who works in recruiting and retention and is based in Powhatan, Virginia.
“This day means a great deal to us because we just had 1,000 soldiers leave for deployment,” Chumley said. “It’s an honor to be part of something that has been around 385 years and is still thriving. It’s miraculous. The National Guard has stood the testament of time.”