WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Many National Guard soldiers and airmen celebrate the birthdate of the nation's oldest military organization every Dec. 13 with a slice of cake and a few words of appreciation from their leaders.
Such gatherings are difficult this year, but thanks to the National Guard Association of the United States, Guardsmen nationwide will still receive birthday greetings from some of their leaders — some of their senior leaders.
The association that gives Guard officers a voice in Washington has produced a short video with Guard birthday messages from Army, Air Force and National Guard Bureau leaders.
"We couldn't provide every Guardsmen with a piece of birthday cake but we are showing them that their unique service and sacrifice this year — our 384th year of existence — are greatly appreciated in Washington," said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president.
The video features Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy; Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett; Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, the Army Guard director; Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, the Air Guard director; and Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, the NGAUS chairman of the board.
It is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/NGAUS1878.
In his message, McCarthy referenced the Guard response to an unprecedented series of calamities across the nation, including multiple hurricanes, record wildfires, civil unrest not seen since the 1960s and the worst pandemic in more than a century.
"Our Guardsmen augmented existing hospital staffs, created sterile testing facilities in parking lots, built hospitals out of convention centers, ran nursing homes and delivered life-sustaining sustenance to fellow Americans in hotspot cities," the Army secretary said.
"Then we looked again to the National Guard for response to civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd," he added. "National Guardsmen performed with maturity and compassion ensuring that peaceful protesters' voices could be heard. We are incredibly proud of our soldiers in the National Guard and the work you do on behalf of the country."
Nearly 90,000 Guard soldiers and airmen were on duty when the separate responses overlapped in early June. Never have so many Guardsmen been called at one time for domestic missions.
And another 25,000 were deployed overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kosovo, the Sinai Peninsula and other locations.
The numbers mobilized coupled with the breadth of missions at home and abroad have some Guard leaders calling 2020 "the Year of the Guard."
Barrett, the Air Force secretary, noted in her message that the Guard traces its history to "140 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed."
On Dec. 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature ordered village militia companies into three regiments, the lineage for which continues uninterrupted today in the Massachusetts National Guard. They are the oldest units in the U.S. military.
About NGAUS: The association includes more than 40,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by educating Congress on Guard requirements. Today, 142 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.
SOURCE National Guard Association of the U.S.