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Redstone chapter salutes National Guard, signs ESGR agreement

Monday, January 30, 2017

“Always ready, always there.”

For 380 years, the National Guard has embodied its motto, protecting the people of America even before the states united into one country.

The guard celebrated its history Dec. 13 with a 380th birthday breakfast at the Tom Bevill Conference Center.

National Guard soldiers, National Guard retirees, Redstone Arsenal leadership and local officials attended the annual commemoration hosted by the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.

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National Guard soldiers and AUSA Redstone-Huntsville Chapter members honor the guard at a cake cutting ceremony. (Photo by Bryan Bacon)

“We recognize Dec. 13th as the birthday of the National Guard,” John Perry, chapter vice president for National Guard and Reserve Affairs, said.

Adding, “On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court, the colony’s militia was organized to better defend the colony. Dec. 13, 1636, thus marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard’s oldest organized units.”

Maj. Gen. Donald Tatum, assistant adjutant general for the Alabama Army National Guard, served as keynote speaker for the event. He spoke about the National Guard’s evolving role in national defense since 9/11.

“Fifteen years ago things changed,” Tatum said. “We went from a strategic to an operational force. That happened quickly and that happened overnight. So the demands went up tremendously. Today … the Army cannot do their job without the National Guard and 980,000 soldiers, and they depend on the guard and the reserves.”

Some 13,000 of those soldiers are members of the Alabama Army National Guard making it the fifth largest National Guard in the nation.

“Any time there is a national event, we are there,” Tatum said.

In addition to its role in disaster response and citizen protection, Tatum spoke about the Alabama National Guard’s global reach with its ongoing partnership with Romania.

Although the guard is not immune to the current military reality of having to do more with less, he said the men and women of the Alabama National Guard are ready and proud to serve the people of Alabama.

“Three hundred and eighty years we have been doing this as the guard and we will continue to do this,” Tatum said.

He added, “It is a very busy time for the National Guard … but rest assured all of us serve and do what we do because we have a passion.

“It gets in your blood and the Guard is family.”