The United States National Guard traces its roots to regiments from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which mustered to strengthen the colony's defense against the indigenous Pequot people.

Painting by Don Troiani, courtesy National Guard (CC BY 2.0)

Download this file

  • Audience versions of this page: Family

    On December 13, 1637, regiments of what would become the United States National Guard were assembled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 
     
    The National Guard is a reserve component of the U.S. military. Most members of the National Guard serve part-time, with the traditional service requirement being “one weekend a month, two weeks a year.” Some members, such as pilots, serve more often. National Guard troops are often called up to serve as disaster response teams during floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes. 
     
    The first “national guard” were militias from different communities in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Colony leaders assembled the groups to strengthen their defenses against the indigenous Pequot people.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    assemble Verb

    to put together.

    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    component Noun

    part.

    cot Noun

    light, portable bed.

    disaster response Noun

    procedures and actions taken after a natural or man-made incident causes loss of life, livelihood, or property.

    electricity Noun

    set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge.

    flood Noun

    overflow of a body of water onto land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: flood
    hurricane Noun

    tropical storm with wind speeds of at least 119 kilometers (74 miles) per hour. Hurricanes are the same thing as typhoons, but usually located in the Atlantic Ocean region.

    indigenous Adjective

    characteristic to or of a specific place.

    levee Noun

    bank of a river, raised either naturally or constructed by people.

    Encyclopedic Entry: levee
    military Noun

    armed forces.

    militia Noun

    group of armed, ordinary citizens who are called up for emergencies and are not full-time soldiers.

    National Guard Noun

    military force controlled by a U.S. state but funded by the federal government and called up as part of the Army during national emergencies.

    natural disaster Noun

    an event occurring naturally that has large-scale effects on the environment and people, such as a volcano, earthquake, or hurricane.

    Olympics Noun

    international sports competition divided into summer and winter games held every four years.

    Pequot Noun

    people and culture native to what is today the U.S. state of Connecticut.

    regiment Noun

    military group.

    reserve Adjective

    not habitually used, but quickly available.

    security Noun

    safety or stability.

    shelter Noun

    structure that protects people or other organisms from weather and other dangers.

    tornado Noun

    a violently rotating column of air that forms at the bottom of a cloud and touches the ground.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.