Written by on January 6, 2014 in News


The public and media are invited to join the Iowa National Guard as it celebrates its 175th birthday on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at the Old Capitol Museum, University of Iowa campus, 21 Old Capitol, Iowa City, beginning at 10 a.m. in the House Chamber.

The ceremony will begin promptly at 10 a.m. with a cake-cutting and light refreshments to follow. Currently-serving Soldiers from the 109th Medical Battalion (Multi-Function) will be in attendance. Artifacts on display were provided by the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums, the Johnson County Historical Society, and the State Historical Society of Iowa.

While the National Guard first came into existence in 1636 when the Massachusetts General Court established that all able-bodied men join its militia, more than 200 years passed before Iowa’s National Guard was formally established in the late 1830s.

Addressing the Iowa Territorial Legislature in November 1838, Governor Robert Lucas ratified the need for a territorial militia:

“Should the Indians be disposed to hostilities it becomes our duty to prepare to defend ourselves against any possible attack. This preparation can only be effected by officially organizing and disciplining the Militia of the Territory.”

Although the Territorial Legislature agreed with Gov. Lucas, no appointments were made until 1839. On Jan. 7, 1839, the first member of the Iowa Territorial militia was appointed. Ver Planck Van Antwerp of Des Moines was named the state’s first Adjutant General of the Iowa Militia and was bestowed with the rank of major general.

The first mobilization occurred later that year when the Van Buren Country Sheriff expelled Missouri tax collectors from a disputed border area containing numerous honeybee hives. In all, 1,200 men mustered on the Iowa side for service in the “Honey War.”

Fortunately, before the opposing militia forces clashed, cooler heads prevailed. After delegates met from both sides, it was decided to defer the border decision to the U.S. Congress.

Starting with the Mexican War of 1846 and ending with the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iowa National Guard has participated in every major U.S. conflict. Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to serve by the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage, and excellence.

Today’s Iowa National Guard is made up of more than 9,200 Soldiers and Airman serving in units across the state in 53 armories and 41 communities. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 17,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the Iowa National Guard have mobilized for active duty service in 35 countries, supporting of the Global War on Terror and Overseas Contingency Operations.

As the organization enters its 175th year of service to the state and nation, the Iowa National Guard provides a ready, responsive Joint force committed to excellence, for Iowa and the nation, today and tomorrow.

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