U.S. Marines celebrate 244th birthday here, there, and everywhere Marines serve

Sunday marks the United States Marine Corps’ 244th birthday, and virtually every Marine anywhere in the world will celebrate in some form.

The Corps’ heritage and history are drilled into every recruit from the day he or she arrives in boot camp or officer candidate school, said Anthony A. Lopez, Deputy, Communication Strategy and Ops, at Marine Corps Installation West in San Diego.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Marines raising U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
Iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Marines raising U.S. flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, taken by Associated Press photographer
Joe Rosenthal.

“Each rite of passage makes Marines out of otherwise ordinary citizens,” Lopez said. “To make a Marine, means you become part of a culture because that stays with you until the day you die. It’s a title earned, not given.

“The birth of our Corps in 1775 is as important to every Marine as the very reason each of us make the decision to become one. That is essentially why the birthday is so important for each of us. It’s our rebirth, if you will, as a Marine.”

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of a pair of battalions that would become landing forces as the Americans prepared to declare independence from British rule.

Montford Point Marines, 1942

That became the formal birthday of the Marine Corps, and the creation of a force that has fought in every U.S. involved war, often the first to fight, and has played a role in every U.S. Naval operation since its inception.

The Marine Corps was, in fact, born just 28 days after the creation of the U.S. Navy (October 13, 1775) and as part of the Navy. It remains so today.

The Marines celebrate through the traditional Marine Corps Birthday Ball, but also wherever they are in the world at the time, Lopez said.

“Celebrations take place in dark and dank general purpose tents in combat zones or in  grand ballrooms across the world,” he said. “The location does not matter as long Marines are honoring our history, our fallen, and our brothers and sisters with whom we live and die for when our nation needs us most.”

U.S. Marines in Korea, 1952.

In 1921, General John A. Lejeune ordered that a summary of the history, mission, and traditions of the Corps be read to every command each year on the Marine Corps’ birthday, anywhere Marines serve. That ritual became formalized in 1952, when Commandant General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. added the details to the Marine Corps Drill Manual. It added a cake ceremony in which the first piece is passed from senior to junior Marines, a gesture that represents the passing of experience and knowledge.

This year’s birthday has a special meaning to the veterans living at the Veterans Home of California-Ventura, operated by the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

They received a visit last month from Sgt. Maj. John Canley, the Marines’ 300th and most recent Medal of Honor recipient. He was a guest of VHC-Ventura Administrator Julian Bond.

Happy birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps from all here at Calvet.

Oohrah, Semper Fidelis.

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