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Salem Takes Honor as National Guard’s Birthplace

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 18, 2013 – On Jan. 10, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that designates Salem, Mass., as the birthplace of the National Guard.

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The history of the National Guard began on December 13, 1636, when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the Colony's militia companies into the North, South and East Regiments. The colonists adopted the English militia system which obligated all males between the ages of 16 and 60 to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community. Though the exact date is not known, the first muster of the East Regiment took place in Salem, Mass. Graphic courtesy of the National Guard Bureau

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Local officials, politicians and members of the Massachusetts National Guard gathered at the Salem City Hall yesterday to celebrate the signing of the bill.

“What a lineage we have -- what an honor to be here,” Massachusetts Guard Adjutant General Air Force Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice said at the ceremony.

“What a great meeting of all the history in the place,” Rice added.

The Guard’s birth dates back to Dec. 13, 1636, when the North, South and East Regiments of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were formed. The first muster of those regiments then took place on Salem Common, though the actual date has been lost to history.

The area’s significance as the Guard’s birthplace has been widely known and accepted locally. In 2010, Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Duvall signed a similar bill into state law and in 2007 the Salem City Council passed a corresponding resolution.

Each April, Massachusetts National Guard members hold a mustering of troops on Salem Common as a way of celebrating Salem’s role in the history of the Guard. The Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion and 181st Infantry Regiment all trace their lineage back to the original regiments that mustered on Salem Common.


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