Governor Deval Patrick and Major General L. Scott Rice, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, today honored the Commonwealth's Army and Air National Guard units that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in a ceremony held at the State House. The units were presented battle streamers for their overseas deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"Massachusetts is eternally grateful for the sacrifices each of you have made for our personal safety and for the liberties and freedoms that we hold dear," said Governor Patrick. "We are proud to live in a nation that's protected by the likes of you. You are what make America great. Thank you for your service to us, and let us keep the troops currently deployed, or preparing to deploy, in our thoughts and prayers."
Governor Patrick presents battle streamers to the Commonwealth's Army and Air National Guard units that have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in a ceremony held in Memorial Hall at the State House. (Photo: Eric Haynes/Governor's Press Office)
Governor Patrick presided over the formal ceremony in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the Commonwealth, awarding battle streamers to dozens of Army and Air Units for their service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom dating back to 2008.
"Today our Soldiers and Airmen were honored by entering the State House's front doors and presented their unit flags to the Governor to receive deployment battle streamers," said Major General Rice. "This continues our proud tradition of recognizing units for the past 150 years since the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment's glorious return from the Civil War and the 211th Field Artillery's noteworthy service in Vietnam, 50 years ago. We are extremely proud of the men and women of the Massachusetts National Guard and I'm honored to be a part of their special moment in history."
The Massachusetts National Guard displays battle streamers documenting and honoring its service in every major military engagement throughout the history of the United States, starting with the Revolutionary War and continuing to present day deployments in support of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Verified combat credit entitles an organization to an appropriate campaign streamer. Displaying the streamers on their organizational colors or unit guidons signifies service in a particular battle, campaign or war.
The Patrick Administration leads the nation in providing for veterans and continues to implement initiatives to support employment assistance and workforce training programs for members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their spouses. Earlier this year, the Administration announced that all state agencies that oversee professional licensing within the Administration have established guidelines to assist members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their spouses as they prepare and apply for jobs in Massachusetts. In early March, Governor Patrick signed an executive order to help small businesses owned by disabled veterans increase access to contracts for public projects in the areas of construction, design and goods and services procurement. This executive order also follows the Governor's authorization of the VALOR Act to provide greater assistance to help veteran-owned small business participate in public projects. In 2011, the Administration launched an aggressive employment campaign aimed to increase the hiring of Massachusetts veterans. Among these initiatives, the Patrick Administration partnered with major trade associations to encourage them to hire veterans and circulate information on veterans' benefits.
Tuesday's ceremony also marked a historic moment as the units entered the State House through the front doors. As part of State House decorum, the front doors are only opened when the Governor leaves and assumes office, the sitting President or a Head of State arrives and when military units return from battle or war.
Since its inception over 376 years ago, the Massachusetts National Guard has participated in each of our nation's conflicts steadfastly serving the country and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Over 20,000 Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have deployed since September 11, 2001.