SALEM, Mass. – North Shore residents witnessed history on Saturday morning during a commemoration and re-enactment of the First Muster on Salem Common. The country's first militia mustered on Salem Common in 1637, which began the foundation for what would become the Army National Guard.
On a beautiful breezy day, 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 10, 2010.
The celebration consisted of a three-part event commemorating significant events in the history of the Massachusetts National Guard including the origin of the Army National Guard.
On Dec. 13, 1636, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the Colony’s militia companies into three regiments: North, South and East. The colonists had adopted the English militia system, which obligated males between the ages of 16 and 60 to possess arms and participate in the defense of their community.
The day 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 Army National Guard.
The next event took place at Armory Park on Essex Street to honor the sacrifices of Citizen-Soldiers from Massachusetts. Soldiers of the 101st Field Artillery Rear Detachment Salute Battery and the 182nd Cavalry Regiment, along with period military re-enactors and citizens assembled to pay tribute.
Lt. Col. Arthur Elbthal, commander of the 1st Squadron, 182nd Cavalry Regiment, addressed the audience and then laid a wreath in remembrance of the sacrifices the Citizen-Soldiers made during the American Revolution, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The 101st Field Artillery is forward deployed to Afghanistan and the regimental colors are with them. It is a privilege for the 182nd Cavalry Regiment to represent the lineage and heritage of the Massachusetts National Guard Regiments at this ceremony,” said Elbthal.
The 101st Field Artillery Regiment and the 101st Engineer Battalion, the modern descendents of our nation’s first regiments are currently both deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The 182nd Cavalry and 181st Infantry are both preparing to deploy to Afghanistan later this year.
The final part of the celebration took place on Salem Common, with Massachusetts National Guard Regiments and Soldiers joined by military re-enactors from the First Regiment in 1636 to the World War II. The 101st Field Artillery Salute Battery fired a 13-gun salute to honor past and present troops.
Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, performed the ceremonial inspection of the troops; circling the formation on the field.
Dignitaries included Mayor Kimberly Driscoll, City of Salem, U.S. Rep. John Tierney, Sixth Congressional District of Massachusetts, State Rep. John Keenan, Seventh Essex District of Massachusetts, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, Commander, Massachusetts Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Gary Pappas, Col. John Hammond, Chief of Staff, Massachusetts National Guard and State Command Sergeant Maj. David Costa, Massachusetts National Guard.
Driscoll was the first speaker and honored all military members for their sacrifices. “I want to thank all service members and their families for their dedication and commitment which allows us to be here today and to enjoy events like this one and more in the future,” she said.
During Carter’s remarks he mentioned it was an honor and privilege to be present and share this event with residents of the historic City of Salem.
“By honoring those first Citizen-Soldiers, we honor the present day National Guard and the United States Army, which traces its origin directly to this town common on that spring day so many years ago. It was here, on the historic grounds of the Salem Common in the spring of 1637 that the residents of this vibrant port city saw the First Muster of the East Regiment,” said Carter.
“I have no doubt that when this war is over--and it will end--when our families are safe, our homes secure and our nation at peace, historians will record and our descendants will learn that in the most difficult days of the 21st century, the Massachusetts National Guard answered the call to defend our democracy,” he said.
Prior to the end of the ceremony, Carter presented Driscoll with the Commanders Award for Public Service for her tireless efforts as mayor of the City of Salem.
The ceremony and day’s events concluded with a Pass in Review, wherein each marches across the common for the commander.