KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee National Guard gathered at Smyrna’s Volunteer Training Site to celebrate and honor the 385th birthday of the National Guard on Dec. 13. The guard says only the country music capital of the world could put on a celebration as they had.

Nashville artist Kameron Marlowe performed for more than 300 Tennessee Guardsmen. During the ceremony, he played his new single “Giving You Up,” a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and previewed an unreleased song. The National Guard is America’s oldest military branch.

“385 years ago today, citizens of the Massachusetts Bay Colony came together and raised America’s first regiments for the common defense of the colony,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “They were the first Citizen-Soldiers who were willing to sacrifice their lives at a moment’s notice. Their legacy continues with the men and women who are on the front lines today, serving around the globe and at home, protecting us from foreign threats, natural disasters, and helping those in need.”

After Marlowe’s first set, Holmes asked Marlowe, Spc. Dakota Richardson with the 212th Engineer Company, and Master Sgt. Anderson Young with the 164th Airlift Wing to join him for the ceremonial cake cutting. It is tradition for the oldest and youngest service member in attendance to cut the cake with a ceremonial saber. A guard spokesperson wrote that Young, the senior Guardsman in attendance, represented the Guard’s past, while Richardson, the youngest Guardsman in attendance, represented the Guard’s future.

Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Simmons, Spc. Dakota Richardson, Master Sgt. Anderson Young, Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, and Columbia Nashville Recording Artist Kameron Marlowe use a ceremonial saber to cut a cake celebrating the National Guard’s 385th birthday at Smyrna’s Volunteer Training Site, Dec. 13. (Photo by retired Sgt. 1st Class Edgar Castro)

“It was an honor to participate in the ceremony,” said Richardson. “I’m proud to be a member of an organization with such a strong history of helping those in need.”

Guardsmen have provided help with tornado relief, civil unrest, flooding, hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and deployments around the world.