FORT SILL, Okla._The National Guard celebrated its 379th birthday at Fort Sill.
The celebration ceremony was held at Snow Hall and began with a moment of prayer, followed by the playing of the national anthem. During the ceremony, senior ranking officers shared some history of the National Guard and two even participated in a long-standing tradition.
The National Guard was created in 1636 by militia men during colonial days. So, this military branch outdates the Constitution by more than 150 years. Their slogan 'Always Ready, Always There' has helped them save lives in the U.S. and abroad during times of natural disaster and war.
National Guardsman proudly stood and sang the Army's song. Timothy Sheriff, the Deputy Commanding General Air Defense Artillery National Guard to the Fires Center of Excellence, says keeping tradition alive is what makes the National Guard so strong and effective.
"Tradition is always important. Our foundations for the younger soldiers to remember are just key in development in all those lessons learned over the years," Brig. Gen. Sheriff said.
The long standing tradition of cutting the cake was displayed at the ceremony. It symbolizes the passing and acceptance of knowledge between the youngest guardsman and the oldest on post. Private Jovit Marks is a 17-year-old Hawaii native. He says he was shocked to find out he would be a part of this tradition, and that it came at short notice.
"Well, I was nervous at first. I haven't had many of these experiences at home. One thing I will say is that it was an honor being able to stand next to the general, the oldest member on post, and myself being the youngest member. Ii was only informed this morning," Pvt. Marks said.
Brigadier General Sheriff says he is also honored to be a part of the National Guard's history and he hopes to continue to influence young soldiers.
"To have a 17-year-old private to represent the youngest solider here at Fort Sill really brought a lot of smiles to the crowd. It's been my privilege over 35 years of service to be able to pass on mentorship to younger soldiers," Brig. Gen Sheriff said.