They're not just weekend warriors.
In a move that would create the first militia on the North American continent, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem issued an order on Dec. 13, 1636, requiring all able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years old to create a standing Army for protection.
With that order, what we now know as America's National Guard was born. The idea was simple: Establish an Army of citizen-soldiers who could be called upon to fight when needed.
In 1636, that meant defending Massachusetts Bay. Today, it means answering the call of both state and nation, deploying overseas and responding to natural disasters in the assistance of friends and neighbors.
The men and women of the Army and Air National Guards train regularly, generally two days a month with a longer training annually.
That training means they are ready at any moment to join our active-duty forces overseas or to put their civilian lives on standby to do their state's bidding at home.
Service for the Guard may not a full-time job, but its demands require a lifestyle of commitment and sacrifice.
The National Guard today stands as a community cornerstone, just as it did in 1636.