- In April of 1637, ordinary men gathered on the Salem Commons with a single purpose, to ensure the colony of Massachusetts would be protected. 376 years later, Soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard, gathered on the commons to celebrate those men and the first muster of the United States Military.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment; 101st Engineer Battalion; 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment; the 215th Army Band along with military reenactors and veterans organizations, assembled on the commons in celebration of the first muster of troops which took place here in 1637.
In January 2013, President Barack Obama signed legislation sponsored by Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney designating Salem as the birthplace of the National Guard.
“It’s an honor that the president and Congress have officially recognized Salem as the birthplace of the National Guard and it is a pleasure to share this honor with the city of Salem,” said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. “We have shared our history with Salem since our origin and the city graciously hosts the First Muster Celebration every year.”
“This is the 376th anniversary of the country’s first muster in 1637 in Salem Massachusetts. This is the same National Guard that of course was here in 1637 that have been deployed regularly over the past several years in Iraq and Afghanistan, said U.S Representative John Tierney, 6th Congressional District, Mass.
Tierney, along with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and other members of government spearheaded the passing of a bill designating Salem as the birthplace of the National Guard.
“This April’s ceremony, a wonderful spring tradition in the city of Salem reminds us of the important role Salem played in the formation of our country,” said Kimberley Driscoll, Mayor of Salem Massachusetts. “ Three hundred and sixty-six years ago on this very common, the place we stand today, regular men from around our community came together to serve, to protect, to train, and to ensure our community’s safety,” Driscoll added.
"We began this business nearly four centuries ago and I bet you it was wicked cold out there when we mustered on this green to provide the defense of a colony, a muster that has evolved into tradition that honors history and the service of countless men and women in the National Guard.”
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion, 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, and 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment, which make up part of the 51st Troop Command, trace their lineage back to the original regiments, which mustered in Salem in 1637.
During the ceremony, Rice, along with the incoming commander of the 51st Troop Command, Col. George J. Harrington, the outgoing commander of the 51st Troop Command, Col. Sterling Macleod and the ceremonial commander of troops, Lt. Col. Thomas Stewart performed an inspection of the troops in order to inspect the readiness of troops.
Also taking place was a change of command ceremony for the 51st Troop Command where Col. Sterling Macleod relinquished command to Col. George J. Harrington, incoming commander of the 51st Troop Command.
The historical relevance of the 51st Troop Command was echoed by their incoming commander. “On the field today is a litany of oldest and firsts, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. Our color guard represents the first African-American unit to fight for the union in the Civil War. The Ancient and the Honorable Artillery Company is the oldest chartered military organization in North America and the 51st Troop Command, whose lineage traces to the 51st Infantry Brigade of the 26th Infantry Division, was the first unit to deploy to World War I in the U.S. Military. The tremendous heritage, organized in 1636, training here in 1637, continues to showcase their relevance and their readiness,” said Harrington.
America’s National Guard heritage can be traced back to the First Muster in Salem more than 376 years ago. Soldiers and Airmen throughout Massachusetts continue to serve and honor a rich history of events that have molded the National Guard into the organization it is today.