Release
Immediate Release

Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the Departure of the National Guard From the Capitol Complex

May 24, 2021

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard who for the last five months have been standing watch over the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C.

They came here from all 54 states and territories, leaving behind jobs, homes and families, to bolster security at the Capitol in the wake of the dramatic events on January 6th.  Many of them volunteered for this duty, and most of them did so on little notice.  In good weather and bad -- sometimes cold and wet and tired -- they provided critical capability to the Capitol Police and local authorities. 

These airmen and soldiers protected not only the grounds, but the lawmakers working on those grounds, ensuring the people’s business could continue unabated. They lived out in very tangible ways the oath they took to support and defend the Constitution. 

It’s been a trying but telling year for the National Guard.  Between natural disasters, civil unrest and an ongoing pandemic, our Guardsmen and women have been tested time and time again.  And each time, they have performed magnificently.  So magnificently, in fact, that it would be all too easy to take their service -- and that of their incredible families -- for granted.   We won’t do that, of course, because we know we will continue to call on them in times of need.

As these troops depart for home and a much-deserved reunion with loved ones, I hope they do so knowing how much the nation appreciates their service and sacrifice -- and that of their families and employers.  I hope they know how very proud we are of them.