Recent events bring to mind whether The Old Guard has ever been called out in support of civil authorities—to help defend government property or quell domestic disturbances. Here is a brief overview. Thanks to OldGuardHistory.com for much of the information below. For more, follow the links provided and visit the OldGuardHistory.com blog.
In 1877, during the Great Railroad Strike, President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered Federal troops to assist. The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, stationed at that time in Louisiana, was called in to help quiet down riots in affected areas of Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. The Federal actions taken during the Railroad Strike led to passage in the following year of the Posse Comitatus Act, which specifically forbade the Army from enforcing domestic policy. (see Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and Posse Comitatus Act)
During the 1967 “March on the Pentagon,” the 3d Infantry was part of a defense force organized to control demonstrations against the war in Vietnam in Washington D.C. Apparently, elements of The Old Guard were specifically assigned to the White House and Capitol, but it is not clear whether they were deployed or only placed on alert. As an incidental note, the Army Chief of Staff at the time was General Harold K. Johnson, a former member of the Old Guard. He was a 2LT in the Regiment in 1917, and was a Bataan Death March survivor in World War II. (see National Mobilization Committee)
The 1968 riots in Washington following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. precipitated deployment of some Old Guard companies into the streets of Washington for riot control. (see 1968 Riots)
Finally, The Old Guard was deployed in response to the 1971 May Day demonstrations in Washington, D.C. based on its mission of defense of the White House. Nearly the entire battalion was transported to the Treasury Building, adjacent to the White House, for more than 24 hours waiting for a possible call to action. (see 1971 May Day Protests)
Attention, all former Old Guard members! Please comment below and share your own recollections and photos of the events mentioned above or other times when The Old Guard was called out to support civil authorities. Thanks!
The Old Guard Association
(3d U.S. Infantry Regiment)
Members of The Old Guard Association:
On 8 August 2020, the TOGA Board of Directors made the difficult, but prudent decision to cancel this year’s TOGA reunion. Because that also meant we had cancelled the in-person Annual General Meeting (AGM), we had to make a decision about how to deal with board member elections that would have been held at the AGM.
After carefully consulting our bylaws, having several meetings and multiple discussions on the topic, and after having considered a wide variety of options, we decided to delay this year’s election until the next reunion when we can execute it as our bylaws require—as part of the in-person AGM. The board asked that I announce this decision, speaking for the board and explaining our process.
These are truly unique times. Our nation and the world find themselves in circumstances none of us could have forecasted and for which none of us planned. The Association’s controlling documents don’t provide guidance on how to address this situation. There were no easy answers.
As we approached this, we embraced the spirit of our bylaws, focused on the values and character of our Association, and considered how to ensure TOGA’s vitality into the future. We developed a wide variety of options, some of which were fairly complex and expensive. We then spent a significant amount of time talking through how we should make our decision.
The board first agreed that cost and difficulty should not be part of our decision; we would focus on what would be best, not what was easy. An entire board meeting—with some very spirited discussion—was devoted to going through the options. After discussing the pros and cons of each alternative, whether to combine aspects of certain options with aspects of others, and whether any of the options should be eliminated from consideration, we voted to delay the election.
It should be no surprise that all the board members would prefer that we were able to follow the same process we’ve followed over the years, using the annual in-person AGM for these elections. However, circumstances beyond our control prevented us from following this straightforward and clear approach. Our decision represents the best option available to us at this time.
That’s not the end, though. We need to consider updating our bylaws so that they spell out contingency options in the future if we are ever again unable to hold our annual in-person AGM. We ask for your suggestions as to how we amend our bylaws so that we have contingency options. Use the “Contact Us” link on www.oldguard.org to send us your comments or submit ideas about revising our bylaws.
Colonel Joe Buche, US Army Retired
TOGA Board Member and 77th RCO