America's First Step to Militarism
"Today is the 375th birthday of the United States Army National Guard, formed in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1636," informed Garrison Kiellor in today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. Mr. Kiellor continued:
- It's the oldest branch of the country's military: 139 years older than the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps; and 311 years older than the Air Force. Individual towns in other colonies had formed their own militias, but the Massachusetts Bay was the only region whose population density was great enough to warrant the formation of more than one regiment. Towns around Boston were grouped into the North, South, and East regiments. Because the Massachusetts Bay Colony still considered itself British, the General Court ordered the formation of a traditional English militia: all able-bodied men were obligated to own arms and participate in the defense of the colony, whether by upholding its laws or defending against attack. Militiamen took turns serving in nightly guard details, and drilled weekly. The Army National Guard has participated in every American war or conflict since the Pequot War of 1637.