CHARLESTON - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin as well as U.S. representatives Nick Rahall, Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley in honoring the National Guard's legacy of service.
The men and women of the National Guard have continued to defend against threats both foreign and domestic. These Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have answered the call not only to fight for, but to aid, their fellow Americans in times of disaster-both natural and manmade. As it has done for 376 years, the National Guard continues to embrace new missions that will contribute to keeping America safe.
"The National Guard's deeply rooted role in our communities has allowed our state and nation to maintain high levels of readiness at home and abroad," Tomblin said. "I'm proud of West Virginia's National Guard and the tradition of service they represent. In recent weeks and months they have provided invaluable assistance to West Virginia families throughout our state, and I'm truly honored to lead such an esteemed group of men and women."
"Throughout our nation's history, the National Guard has shouldered an enormous responsibility in keeping us all safe - and the West Virginia National Guard is the best in the country," said Rockefeller, who introduced the Guardians of Freedom Act. Language from that bill was part of legislation signed into law last year that elevated the chief of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The Guard protects us at home and abroad, and that makes them incredibly important not just to our country, but to all West Virginians. As we celebrate the Guard's 376th birthday, let's keep in mind that the Guard brings capabilities and efficiencies to the table that we need in these tough economic times. Together, 464,900 members of the National Guard provide a capable, operational and affordable military force - at just six percent of the Pentagon's annual budget. That's incredible cost-effectiveness."
"I wish to salute all the men and women in the National Guard on this special day -- the 376th birthday of this vital military force," Manchin said. "This is a special day of pride for the West Virginia National Guard, which includes the 201st Field Artillery Regiment, known as 'First West Virginia.'"
the oldest continually serving unit in the United States. West Virginia's Guard was also one of the thirteen original militia companies that formed the Continental Army. Over the years, it has continually ranked as one of the best in the country. Less than two years ago, it was tops in the Army Chief of Staff Communities of Excellence competition. As Governor, I was proud to command the men and women who serve in our state's National Guard. And as Senator, I congratulate the National Guard -- and all of its members -- for long and distinguished service to our great state and our great nation."
"From the first shot of the Revolutionary War to the present day, the Citizen-Soldiers of our National Guard have served their fellow Americans in defense of our homeland and in support of emergency preparedness and response needs," said Congressman Rahall, senior member of the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus. "I was proud to champion legislation to increase the clout of the National Guard and with my support, the Congress enacted historic empowerment changes, including elevating the Chief of the National Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As we stand in this season of debate about the future course of our Nation, I remain dedicated to making certain our citizen soldiers have the training, equipment, and resources they need to fulfill their missions and will keep fighting to ensure that our National Guard has the resources and support it needs to remain a model of excellence."
"Happy 376th birthday to the National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces! I am humbled to live in a nation where men and women voluntarily join our military to protect their fellow citizens," said Congresswoman Capito. "West Virginia has a long history of sending brave men and women to the front lines, and we are extremely proud of the members of the West Virginia National Guard who have volunteered their service to our country,"
"What began as a colonial militia turns 376 years old today," said Congressman McKinley. "Happy birthday to the National Guard and to the brave men and women who wear the uniform and protect our freedoms every day. From helping those who encountered natural disasters to serving our country overseas in a moment's notice, we thank you for your commitment and dedication to our state and country."