It's not every day you get your picture taken with the Governor. He was here to sign a bill distinguishing Salem as the Birthplace of the National Guard.
Taken from the Salem Evening News.......
SALEM — It may have taken 373 years, but the city is finally getting some long-overdue recognition. State legislators last week designated Salem "the birthplace of the National Guard," officially commemorating the 1637 muster of the country's first militia on Salem Common.
In substance, the bill merely calls for state highway workers to put up signs along the entrance corridors proclaiming Salem's special designation. Champions of the bill, however, say the recognition is yet another badge of honor for this city of historic firsts.
"I think it reinforces the fact that we're not just about witches," said state Rep. John Keenan, the bill's sponsor. "We have a maritime history and now history with the National Guard. This is a way to declare to other folks in Massachusetts and the entire country that we are the birthplace of the National Guard, which is something to be extremely proud of."
"It gives Salem another dimension," Moran said. "It's another thing where it's a first."
Exactly when the National Guard was officially created may be open to some interpretation.
The state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security claims the first units of the Massachusetts Militia were organized in Plymouth in 1621, Salem in 1629 and Boston in 1630.
The National Guard was born on Dec. 13, 1636, when town militia companies were organized into three regiments: North, South and East. (At the time, the colonists faced threats from nearby Pequot Indians and the colony wanted militia members to be ready in case of attack.)
Salem's birthplace claim centers around a muster on Salem Common in the spring of 1637. According to the Massachusetts National Guard, the Salem men represented "the country's first militia," and the muster "began the foundation for what would become the National Guard."
Salem's claim to a piece of the origins of the American military has so far gone unchallenged — quite unlike the heated rivalry between Marblehead and Beverly, which both squabble over being dubbed the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.
"I'm not aware of any other state with a designated area that conflicts with ours, so, yes, I do believe that's correct," Keenan said of Salem's spot in American military history.
Moran hopes to some day create a Museum of the First Muster, which he thinks will be helped by the city's new designation.
"That's a real possibility with the recognition now," Moran said. "It'd be easier for the groups to get grants for things like that."
Next up, Moran said, is federal recognition.
"John Tierney knows about it and knows we'll be knocking on his door with a petition to take before the Congress, which I don't feel will be a tough ride," Moran said.
The bill passed in the waning moments of the legislative session last week. At one point, its fate was in jeopardy after the Mass Department of Transportation refused to cover the expense of the sign, Keenan said.
"We'll find a way to pay for the sign," Keenan said.