On this date in 1636, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem made a declaration that any able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join the militia. This established three permanent regiments to defend the colony. While they helped the settlers deal with disease, poor sanitation and harsh weather, it was the battle against the Pequot Indian tribe that was their first call to combat. They were successful in defending the colony and other states quickly formed their own militias.
Today, the descendants of these first regiments - the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard share the distinction of being the oldest units in the U.S. military. The National Guard still consists of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen providing protection from natural disaster and training regularly to sharpen readiness skills to benefit local communities. It has also developed into an active, ready force deploying to faraway countries to protect the national interests of the United States abroad. Learn more about today's National Guard in the video below.