During the War for Independence, these “minutemen” formed an important part of the American Army and despite adversity, poor supplies, and no pay, time and again, proved themselves in battle against much better equipped mercenaries and the professional soldiers in the British Army.
Our original purpose was to defend and protect against hostile natives, renegades, an occasional attack from the French (in the days long before the Revolutionary War), and in 1812, an attempt by the British to reclaim their lost colony. The threat often changed, but the response was always the same ... do whatever was necessary to protect families and neighbors and, after independence, to preserve the fledgling democracy. Due in no small part to the contributions of the National Guard, America grew and prospered and soon established itself as a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples around the world.
Unlike the military in many other countries so often used to oppress and control civilian populations, our heritage reflects only the highest ideals of service-before-self. From WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm to today - we have returned to our traditional mission of defending the homeland. Today’s focus has been defending against the terrorist threat.
The Minutemen of our National Guard, however, were not content just to save the world from disaster. We responded to local emergencies within the Garden State and as we now are doing in the Gulf Coast region, assisting our fellow citizens devastated by natural disasters. We mobilized Soldiers and Airmen to New Orleans to assist local law enforcement in patrolling the grief-stricken areas. We collected 3.5 million bottles of water for the residents of the impacted areas. Our Soldiers operated a Movement Control Cell at Naval Air Station New Orleans – one of the busiest transportation hubs in the area following the hurricane. And our Civil Engineers from the 108th ARW and 177th FW are providing much needed support in Gulfport. These are New Jersey’s finest citizens!
Here in New Jersey we assist local communities by bringing drinking water to areas where supply may be interrupted; we transport patients with medical emergencies to hospitals for dialysis and other lifesaving treatment; assist in the rescue and recovery efforts; install temporary bridges over key roadways; provide emergency generators during power outages; help fight forest fires in the Pinelands; evacuate people stranded by floods; open our armories for various community events; provide our young people with recreation facilities; support drug education / prevention programs; work with various law enforcement agencies in the ongoing war on drugs; helped plan and conduct the Statue of Liberty Centennial celebrations, World Cup Soccer, Op Sail, and the Inaugural ceremonies for our Governor every four years.
Like the many unique challenges that faced our predecessors, the threat keeps changing. From Homeland Defense to Homeland Security; from Emergency Operations to Community Assistance ... in the glorious tradition of our forefathers ... we keep responding. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your continued sacrifice. Thank you for keeping alive the indomitable spirit of the Citizen-Soldier.