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WHEREAS, the Virginia National Guard traces the heritage and traditions of citizen service to the May 14, 1607, founding of Jamestown, and there has not been a day since without a military presence in Virginia to defend freedom at home and overseas; and
WHEREAS, the oldest, continuous service regiment is the 1st Virginia Regiment was organized in 1652 as a state militia, and its lineage lives on today in the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion; and
WHEREAS, the 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry Regiment, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 54th Field Artillery Brigade, and 246th Field Artillery Regiment were all formed in 1917 from existing militia units as the United States prepared to enter World War I, and those units are either still in service today or their lineage has carried forward; and
WHEREAS, during World War II, Soldiers from the 29th Division invaded Normandy, leading to the death, injury, or disappearance of more than 800 members of the 116th Infantry, eventually leading to the liberation of France and the end to Nazi tyranny; and
WHEREAS, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have served on federal active duty and ten Virginia National Guard Soldiers have been lost to hostile enemy action serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia National Guard has mobilized thousands of men and women to respond to hurricanes, winter storms, flooding, and other severe weather events across the Commonwealth, country, and world; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia National Guard played a crucial role in security operations during the Charlottesville riots in 2017; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia National Guard has been a critical support to the Commonwealth over the last year, testing and vaccinating Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing civilian law enforcement, securing the nation’s Capitol during the insurrection, and providing security during the 59th Presidential Inauguration; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia National Guard could not perform its mission without the support of the civilian workforce, families, employers, and communities around the Commonwealth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize May 14, 2021, as the 414th BIRTHDAY OF THE VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.