The public is invited to a ribbon cutting at the National Guard armory on Airport Road this Saturday as it reopens.
According to Arkansas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Brian L. Mason, the armory is being reopened and filled with roughly 100 soldiers assigned to Alpha Company Headquarters, 2nd Regiment, 153rd Infantry Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, due to its strategic location at the Boone County Airport and close proximity to Highways 412 and 65, which are major commercial truck and passenger car highways.
In the event of a natural disaster or weather emergency, the National Guard's presence there increases the Guard's agility to rapidly respond, Mason said.
The Harrison Armory was put in a warm, caretaker status in 2015 in a strategic reorganization. The National Guard routinely evaluates and re-evaluates where it needs a presence based on a myriad of factors that are strategic in nature, Mason said.
The Harrison armory is the third to be reopened this year. Earlier this year, the West Memphis and Prescott armories were reopened.
“Because of the National Guard’s dual mission (national and state), and its roots in the militias going back to colonial America in the 17th century, the Guard should be a part of the community and as local as possible,” said Lonnie Anderson, post commander for The American Legion in Harrison.
Anderson said there will be a “meet and greet” from 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, opening ceremony starts promptly at 11 a.m. and will conclude with a Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony at approximately 11:30 a.m.
The Arkansas National Guard pumps nearly $750 million into the state's economy every year. Boone County's piece of that pie is over $932,000 annually, which is generated via funds to maintain the armory and in salaries to the 72 Guardsmen who call Boone County home, Mason said.
Ever since the official founding of the National Guard system, as we know it today, in 1903 with the passage of the Federal Militia Act, the men and women of the National Guard have been serving their country as the primary combat reserve component of the U.S. Army, Anderson said. Because the National Guard came directly out of the State Militia system that existed prior to 1903 it still maintains that traditional role. When called by the state governor, the National Guard is there responding to natural disasters and local or state emergencies providing assistance to law enforcement, medial aid, search and rescue, fighting forest fires and a host of other state and community relief activities for the citizens of Arkansas and the local community.