America’s oldest fighting force was founded officially today, in 1636, when the first Militia fighting forces gathered in Massachusetts. 380 years later, here are some of the lesser-known facts about the US National Guard:
1.) The very first National Guard consisted of Militia forces that were divided into three regiments (these units were the first “Minutemen,” known for their quick response times).
4.) President Kennedy once used National Guard troops to enforce integration legislature after Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa to prevent integration.
5.) National Guard soldiers have fought in every single war since their founding.
7.) There have been 780,000 mobilizations of National Guard units since September 11, 2001. They provided about half of the troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.
8.) The National Guard is second only to the US Army in terms of members.
9.) As each state has their own National Guard units, members must swear to uphold both Federal and State constitutions.
10.) The National Guard name was not official until 1916, but it was first popularized by the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Lafayette went on to become the leader of his own National Guard in France.
11.) The National Guard was the first to create an African-American unit, 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, during the Civil War. One member of this unit, Sgt. Carney, was the first African-American to earn the Medal of Honor.