SALEM, Mass. – Soldiers of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, along with several veteran’s organizations and living history groups, gathered in Salem to commemorate the first formation of the American militia during the annual Salem Muster here, April 4, 2009.
Three hundred and seventy-two years ago, members of the East Regiment, the ancestors of the modern Massachusetts Army National Guard, set a precedent in the New World by assembling on Salem Common in 1637. This event is celebrated annually by the Massachusetts Army National Guard and the city of Salem.
The day of remembrance began with a wreath laying ceremony at St. Peter’s Church in Salem at the gravesite of Capt. Stephen Abbott. In 1785, Abbott founded the 2nd Corps of Cadets and served as its first commander. The lineage of the 2nd Corps is now proudly carried by Battery A, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment of the Massachusetts National Guard.
Following the wreath laying at the church, the commemoration relocated to Armory Park on Essex Street to honor the sacrifices of Citizen-Soldiers made during the American Revolution, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“This event allows us the opportunity to remember those Citizen-Soldiers whose sacrifices enabled the creation of our nation,” said Jay Finney, head of marketing for the Peabody Essex Museum, in his opening speech.
Maj. James Hally, commander of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, addressed his unit, military re-enactors from all periods of our nation’s history and a crowd of Salem residents on an overcast Saturday morning and then laid a wreath in remembrance of the Soldiers of the Essex Regiment who died at the battle of Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary War.
The 101st Field Artillery Regiment, the modern descendent of one of our nation’s first regiments, is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2010.
“I take great comfort in knowing that if I fall, or if one of my Soldiers falls during our tour of duty, our names will be remembered; our service will be honored and our sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten,” said Hally
Hally’s address was followed by a rifle salute in commemoration for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in combat from generations both past and present.
The ceremony continued with the 1st Battalion 101st Field Artillery Regiment; the 101st Engineer Battalion; the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment; and the 1st Squadron, 182nd Cavalry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, forming up on the Salem Common. The Guard members were joined by military re-enactors from several periods in history, from the first regiment in 1636 to the Second World War.
The 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment also provided a 13-gun salute; to honor past and present troops.
Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, performed the ceremonial inspection of the troops; circling the entire formation on the field before returning to the podium. Several guest speakers, including government and city officials and military commanders spoke to all in attendance.
The ceremony and day’s events concluded with the Pass in Review, wherein each unit takes its turn marching for the commander.
Prior to ending the 372nd anniversary of the First Muster, Carter addressed the formation, “When you enter the theater in either Iraq or Afghanistan, you take with you nearly 400 years of honor, courage, and sacrifice.”