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National Guard’s 373rd birthday defending freedom; protecting dreams 
Cake Cutting 
Here on Camp Victory, at Al-Faw Palace, Baghdad, on Dec. 13, members of the 101st Engineer Battalion, one of the four oldest units in the Army National Guard, along with service members from National Guard Bureau, assist the youngest member of the 101st Engineer Battalion, Pfc. Jeramie Burgos of Worcester, Mass., in the cake cutting ceremony celebrating the Army National Guard’s 373rd birthday (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy Knowles)
By Sgt. Tracy Knowles, 101st Engineer Battalion, Multi-National Division-Baghdad  

BAGHDAD In 1636, the first militia regiments were organized by the general courts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Army National Guard is the oldest component of the United States Armed Forces. Starting with the Pequot War in 1637 until the present day the Army National Guard has defended freedom in every war or conflict this nation has fought.

On Dec. 13, hundreds of service members ran 3.73 miles in observance of the National Guards 373rd birthday here on Camp Victory.

The 101st Engineers, 181st Infantry, 101st Field Artillery and the 182nd Cavalry are the only units in the U.S. Army who can display the Lexington-Concord battle streamer since the units they descended from fought battles in Lexington, Concord and Arlington on April 19, 1775, the opening of the Revolutionary War.

The 101st Engineers continued this tradition of protecting our nation in June, 2009, by deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning its 36th battle streamer.

After the run, there was a birthday celebration along with a short ceremony at Al-Faw Palace. The youngest member of the 101st Engineer Battalion, Pfc. Jeramie Burgos of Worcester, Mass., read the National Guard poem.

“Being part of this celebration is an honor, being the youngest member of the oldest military organization in the United States Army is pretty sweet,” said Burgos.

Guest speaker, a Massachusetts native, Maj. Gen. Peter Alyward, deputy commanding general for Iraqi Security Forces, Arlington, Va., spoke about the history of the National Guard and the importance of the Citizen Soldier, currently there are over 21,000 National Guard Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Today you [Soldiers] are helping to bring freedom to Iraq, thank you for your hard work and sacrifice,” said Alyward.

The 101st Engineer Battalion is another year older and continuing this tradition of proudly defending freedom, protecting dreams, and always standing ready to fight at a moment’s notice.