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NEWS | April 28, 2023

Illinois National Guard to Commemorate 300 years of service with full day of events in Springfield

The Illinois National Guard will commemorate its 300th birthday in the state capital May 6. The Illinois National Guard turns 300 years old on May 9 and we are celebrating with our communities by commemorating significant dates in our shared history. We are celebrating our 300th year with a day full of events in the State's Capital and home of the Illinois National Guard headquarters.

  • Saturday, May 6, in Springfield.
  • Illinois State Military Museum, 1301 North MacArthur Blvd, Springfield
    • 10 a.m. –  ILNG 1st Muster Reenactment including militia drills
    • Timeline through ILNG history with the museum’s volunteers and living historians will be on display throughout the day until 4 p.m.
  • Oak Ridge Cemetery War Memorials, 1500 Monument Ave., Springfield
    • 11 a.m. – ILARNG Col. Shawn Nokes, incoming Commander of the 129th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) will speak on the importance of “passing the torch” from Vietnam Veterans to the younger generation of Veterans.
    • This is part of the annual Vietnam Veterans Vigil which runs from 10:30 a.m. on May 6 to 11:15 a.m. on May 7. 
  • Union Square Park, 500 E. Madison St., Springfield (Across 6th Street from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.)
    • 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Illinois National Guard military equipment displays, a “Black Ops” obstacle course, information booths and other activities.
    • 1 p.m. - Commemorating the rescue of King Leopold III of Belgium by the ILNG’s 106th Cavalry Regiment in World War II with Mr. Patrick Van Nevel, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Belgium, Illinois Army National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, and Chief of the ILNG Joint Staff and former 106th Cavalry Commander Col. Michael Eastridge. Learn the story of the daring May 1945 rescue of the Belgium King by Illinois National Guard Cavalry Soldiers. King Leopold was rescued from the Nazis by ILNG Soldiers using deception, speed and stealth.
    • 2 p.m. – Commemorating the Battle of Hamel during World War I with a representative from Australia, Illinois Army National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, and Chief of the ILNG Joint Staff and former 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Michael Eastridge. Illinois National Guard Soldiers were the first U.S. Soldiers to fight side-by-side with Australian troops in this World War I allied victory. The U.S. and Australia have been stalwart allies ever since and this partnership is vitally important for both countries to this day.
    • 3 p.m. – Illinois National Guard 300th Birthday Cake-Cutting Ceremony and Birthday Concert. There will be a cake-cutting ceremony followed by an hour-long concert by the Illinois Air National Guard’s 566th Air Force Band.
  • The history of the organization begins in a place known as the American Bottom in Southern Illinois.  In the small village of Kaskaskia, Diron d’ Artaguiette, the Inspector of Troops for the French Commandant drilled the first militia in the Illinois Country on May 9, 1723.  Among the tall grasses of the Illinois prairie rose the first semblance of an organized militia, originally under the French regime. Some of the surnames of those original Soldiers are still common around Randolph County to this day.  The Illinois National Guard was part of the community then and remains part of the communities of Illinois to this day.
  • Throughout 2023, the Illinois National Guard will commemorate significant dates in our shared history with our communities, and with our friends around the world.
  • On May 7, 1945, the 106th Cavalry made a rapid advance into the Alps to rescue King Leopold III of Belgium from Nazi German officers.
  • The Battle of Hamel in World War I, an allied victory on July 4, 1918, was the first time U.S. Soldiers, specifically Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers, fought side-by-side with Australian Soldiers.