As we contemplate the storylines for the new museum, I have been reading a lot about the formation of the National Guard in Oklahoma. In 1890 the Territorial Legislature included an Act that allowed for the establishment of a militia. However, there was no funding allocated for its operation. It was not until 1895 that the Territorial Militia was redesignated as the Oklahoma National Guard. The legislation detailed the military structure, duties, and appropriated funds for its use.
Despite humble beginnings, the National Guard did grow after 1895. During the Spanish American War in 1898, many Oklahoma guardsmen volunteered to serve with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Other soldiers signed up to serve with the volunteer infantry but did not see action during the brief fighting in Cuba.
By the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907, the role of the National Guard was mostly solidified. In the first legislative session of the new state, House Bill 353 established the Organization and Maintenance of the Oklahoma National Guard, which expanded to include the former Indian Territory. The rest, as they say, is history.
If you ever have questions about the plans for the new museum, my door is always open.—Denise