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December 13 – National Guard Birthday

December 13, 1636

Happy birthday to the National Guard! Take a look back in time at how this organization came to be.

Local militias were formed from the earliest English colonization of the Americas in 1607 and the first colony-wide militia was formed in 1636 by merging small older local units in Massachusetts and several National Guard units can be traced back to this original militia. These various colonial militias then became state militias when the United States became an independent nation. The title “National Guard” was used in 1824 by some of the New York State militia units, named after the French National Guard in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. “National Guard” became standard nationwide in 1903, and specifically used to indicate reserve forces under mixed state and federal control since 1933.

The United States National Guard is a reserve military force composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard are under dual control of their state and federal government. The majority of National Guard soldiers and airmen hold a full-time civilian job while serving in the National Guard part-time.