A Celebration of Brotherhood and Bravery
Every year, on November 10th, Marines, both active and not active (there is no such thing as a ‘former’ or ‘ex’ Devil Dog), gather to celebrate the birth of the United States Marine Corps. The origins of the Marine Corps Birthday go way back, and throughout its history, the Corps has fought in countless battles and earned a reputation as the most formidable force on the planet.
During my years on Active Duty, it didn’t matter where we were in the world; our birthday would be celebrated one way or another. In Afghanistan, I was at a remote firebase way up north with some members of the 3rd Special Forces Group. I returned from patrol, and the Team Sergeant, an ill-tempered warfighting machine, somehow acquired some cake and ensured we all celebrated in the TOC (Tactical Operation Center). In Iraq, it was no different, and our birthday was the biggest holiday of a deployment that spanned a whole lot of holidays! I had the privilege of gifting each of our Marines two beers to celebrate, along with an appropriate slice of goodness. I regurgitated the Commandant’s Message to the best of my ability, and Charlie Company, First Battalion Eighth Marines, had a whole lot of OOHRAH. This year marks 248 years of romping, stomping, hell, death, and destruction and I will enjoy a quiet birthday somewhere between New Mexico and California.
If you want to dig deeper, keep reading.
The Marine Corps traces its roots back to 1775 when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines as a naval infantry force to protect American ships and sailors. We love our Navy Brethren and have to put up with them always saying that “the Marine Corps is a Department of the Navy!” You might hear some Leathernecks’ mumbled response “At least we are the Men’s Department!” Since its conception, the Marines have served in every conflict America has been involved in, from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marine Corps has earned a reputation as the “first to fight” and the “tip of the spear,” known for their tenacity, courage, and unwavering commitment to duty.
Over the years, the celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday has evolved. The first recognized Marine Corps Birthday was held in 1921, when Major General John A. Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, establishing November 10th as the official birthday of the Marine Corps. The order also directed that the occasion be celebrated with a cake-cutting ceremony, with the first piece of cake given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn passes it to the youngest Marine.
Marine Corps Birthday celebrations take many forms today, from small unit gatherings to grand ballroom events. The festivities include toasts, speeches, musical performances, and tributes to the fallen. But at the heart of it all is a deep sense of brotherhood and camaraderie, a connection that transcends time and distance and is bound by a shared tradition.
It’s no secret that the Marine Corps is a tough organization with a reputation for discipline and hard work. Yet, what sets Marines apart is their dedication to upholding a set of core values that guide their actions both on and off the battlefield. These values – honor, courage, and commitment – serve as the foundation for what it means to be a Marine and are instilled in each recruit from day one.
The Marine Corps Birthday is a time-honored tradition and a testament to the bravery and brotherhood of the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps has evolved over the years, but its core values remain unchanged, and its commitment to excellence is unwavering. This November 10th, let us remember and honor the men and women who have served and continue to serve in the United States Marine Corps. OORAH!