Tanner contributes to educational fund
Posted: Monday, July 5, 2010 9:05 pm
WASHINGTON — The man who has represented West Tennessee in Congress for two decades has given back to an institution he has served even longer — the National Guard.
U.S. Rep. John Tanner last week became the newest member of the Legion de Lafayette during a brief ceremony in the National Guard Memorial.
Legion members are the largest financial contributors to the National Guard Educational Foundation (NGEF), a nonprofit organization that operates the National Guard Memorial Museum and other programs designed to tell all 374 years of the Guard story.
Tanner served in the Tennessee Army National Guard for 28 years, retiring as a colonel in 2000. He commuted home from Capitol Hill for monthly drill weekends and annual training during his first five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We, as an organization, are humbled to receive such a gracious donation that will go a long way toward sharing the Guard story with the American public,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., president of the NGEF and its parent organization, the National Guard Association of the United States.
Hargett, the former adjutant general of Tennessee, served with Tanner for many years. He also grew up in the congressman’s district.
“I am especially humbled and proud that our latest Legion member is from Tennessee,” he said. “John Tanner is showing Guardsmen everywhere once again why Tennessee is called the Volunteer State.”
The 10-term congressman said that contributing to the NGEF comes natural.
“My family is deeply rooted in the Guard. My dad served 20 years in the Tennessee Army National Guard, retired in the early ’60s. He fought in Europe during World War II,” he said. “I always want to support whatever the Guard is doing.”
He took time after the ceremony to tour the National Guard Memorial Museum, the only such facility that tells the Guard story from a national perspective.
“I think everyone should know what the Guard has contributed through the years,” he said, “and the museum is one way to do it.”
Tanner will be recognized on a special wall for Legion de Lafayette members inside the National Guard Memorial.
The Legion de Lafayette is named for Marquis de Lafayette, who gave the organized militia of the United States its enduring name.
During his visit to New York City in 1824, the renowned Seventh Regiment of the New York Militia provided Lafayette his guard of honor. This adopted son of George Washington had won great esteem in France as the commander of the famed Guard Nationale de Paris.
To the members of the New York unit, it seemed appropriate that, in view of the honor that had been accorded them, they should redesignate the unit to reflect its “special relationship” with Lafayette.
They voted to call themselves “The National Guards” out of respect to the Guard Nationale. Soon other militia units and entire states adopted the new militia name.
The National Guard Association of the United States includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 132 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.
Published in The Messenger 7.5.10