Senator John Thune
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the South Dakota National Guard (SDNG). Formed on January 27, 1862, the SDNG has proudly served our state and nation for the past century and a half, dating back to the Dakota Territory. To celebrate the SDNG’s accomplishments and dedication throughout the years, South Dakotans will participate in various celebrations organized on the weekend of June 8-9.
SDNG units have served in nearly every major war or conflict since the Civil War. In addition to serving in war and other conflicts, countless units have assisted with recovery efforts from numerous natural disasters, including the devastating Missouri River flood of 2011. These brave men and women have risked their safety and security for our freedom. Since 9/11, in excess of 8,000 South Dakota soldiers and airmen have deployed to various conflicts around the globe. During this service, eight members of the South Dakota National Guard have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This is a much different time for the Guard than it was during its creation over a century ago. In recent years, we have asked more and more of our Guard members. The nation is employing these soldiers and airmen in more frequent and extended durations. While the Guard has experienced numerous changes over the past 150 years, the bravery and dedication of our military members remains stronger than ever. In addition to the Guard members who serve in harm’s way, we must also recognize the burden that our Guard members’ families face during deployment as they send their loved ones off to faraway places.
I encourage all South Dakotans to help celebrate these brave Guard units and their 150 years of service. Various activities throughout the state have been coordinated to celebrate the anniversary, including an open house organized by the SDNG at Camp Rapid in Rapid City on Friday, June 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Additionally, the South Dakota National Guard Museum in Pierre is hosting a 150th anniversary party on Saturday, June 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Later in the summer, the Air Guard will celebrate the 150th birthday during their air show the weekend of July 21st-22nd at Joe Foss Field.
Our soldiers represent the finest our nation has to offer. May all South Dakotans continue to keep our National Guard troops in our thoughts and prayers as they continue to bravely serve our state and country.