The Illinois National Guard commemorated its momentous 300th anniversary with a series of events held in Springfield earlier this month. Joining in the festivities were esteemed international partners from Australia, Belgium, and Poland, alongside other distinguished guests.
The day's program commenced at the Illinois State Military Museum, where an awe-inspiring showcase of military uniforms and equipment provided a comprehensive historical timeline. The commemorative events culminated with an exclusive birthday gala at the esteemed Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, attended by invitees only.
Moving downtown to the vicinity of Union Park, the focus shifted to an exhibition of military vehicles for public viewing. Unfortunate weather conditions forced the cancellation of two afternoon ceremonies honoring the shared history between the Illinois National Guard and the Kingdom of Belgium, commemorating the Illinois National Guard's heroic rescue of King Leopold III from German Nazis during World War II. Additionally, the events recognized the Illinois National Guard's collaboration with the Australian military during the Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918, marking the first-ever joint operation between American and Australian forces.
Major General Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard, expressed his honor in celebrating the enduring relationships with international partners. Maj. Gen. Boyd emphasized the significance of leveraging historical achievements, fostering multinational alliances, and addressing present and future challenges.
Highlighting the intertwined history between the Illinois National Guard and communities throughout the state, Boyd emphasized the profound impact of the Guard's contributions to the United States. He cited the illustrious example of a young Abraham Lincoln, who served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War, garnering invaluable leadership experience and firsthand knowledge of soldiers' daily hardships.