Today, we celebrate the 378th birthday of the National Guard and the long tradition of citizen service in the United States. Today, the National Guard continues its dual service role to the states, territories and the District of Columbia as well as to the defense of the United States and its interests across the globe.
Pennsylvanians share in this rich tradition of service in the United States Armed Forces. In 1747, Benjamin Franklin led Philadelphia in the creation of the “Associators,” marking the beginning of what is now the Pennsylvania National Guard. For 267 years, citizens of the Commonwealth have been inspired by the Pennsylvania National Guard motto, “Civilian in peace. Soldier in war.” Ever vigilant, members of the Pennsylvania National Guard stand ready to set aside the comforts of home to support their communities and nation in times of war, natural disaster or civil emergency.
Pennsylvania has one of the largest National Guard forces in the United States. Our citizen-soldiers have fought in every major American conflict from their inception to present day. I am deeply grateful for their continued service to our communities and the nation. I wish the National Guard a “happy birthday.”
The National Guard celebrates its 377th birthday today. The National Guard traces its history back to a direct declaration of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on December 13, 1636. This declaration formed a group of Citizen-Soldiers, requiring all physically able men between 16 and 60 to serve in the militia whenever they were needed.
Other colonies would follow in establishing their own defense forces. Though Pennsylvania’s Citizen-Soldier defense force would not form for over another hundred years, its history is no less special. In 1747, Benjamin Franklin would lead others Philadelphians in the creation of the “Associators.” The idea caught on in neighboring areas within Pennsylvania and was soon replicated throughout the Commonwealth. From its founding in 1747, through the Revolution, to today’s commitment in Afghanistan, the Pennsylvania National Guard has upheld its motto, “Civilian in peace. Soldier in war.”
Today, Pennsylvania has the third largest National Guard in the nation. While the wars have changed, the commitment of these Citizen-Soldiers to answer the call of duty, in their own community, or on the other side of the world, has remained constant. Join me today in wishing the National Guard a “happy birthday!” I am truly honored to represent a state with such a rich tradition and dedication to its own community and to national service.