11-13-2013 01:52 PM
Legend has it that the first battalions of the Marine Corps were recruited in a Philadelphia tavern in 1775. Since then, Marines have embraced closely guarded traditions that represent their commitment to duty and prowess in the field of battle. One such tradition takes place Nov. 10.
On that day, Marines will repeat a festive yet earnest ceremony around the world, from luxurious galas to tents in the desert. A cake will be cut, with the first piece going to the oldest Marine present. He will take a bite and pass the cake to the youngest Marine in the room. The ceremony not only recognizes the official birthday of the Marine Corps, but it also symbolizes the passing of knowledge and experience from one generation of Marines to the next.
"In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term 'Marine' has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue."
— Excerpt from Marine Corps order No. 47 by Commandant John A. Lejeune, issued in 1921. The order is read aloud at every Marine Corps birthday celebration.
Nearly every aspect of a Marine's existence is rich with symbolism and historical significance.
• The Marine Corps emblem of an eagle, globe and anchor signifies America, the Marines' worldwide presence and the branch's naval heritage. Seen another way, the emblem implies the Marines' calling to defend the nation in the air, on land and at sea.
• Semper Fidelis, the Marine Corps motto meaning "Always Faithful," guides Marines to remain true to their mission, to themselves and to each other.
• The Mameluke sword, part of the dress uniform of Marine Corps officers, dates to the early 1800s. After Marines marched across 600 miles of African desert to expel pirates from the "shores of Tripoli," a local chieftain showed his gratitude by presenting the sword to Lt. Presley O'Bannon.
• The "Marines' Hymn," perhaps the country's most recognizable military march, is also the oldest official song of the U.S. armed forces and a venerated part of Marine Corps culture.
• The red "blood stripe," which runs down the trouser leg of Marines' dress blues, represents their fallen comrades.
Service and Sacrifice
While these traditions and many others will be visible on the Marines' birthday, they are more than showpieces for special occasions. They are reminders of the Marines' long history of service, sacrifice and hard-fought victories in the name of freedom.
From the American Revolution to the current war in Afghanistan, the Marines have earned their formidable reputation. Today, more than 200,000 Marines build on the proud legacy of their predecessors, merging their reverence for the past with the practical skills and technology America needs for the future.
As the country evolves, so will the Marines, and new traditions will be built on top of old ones. USAA will be here to honor them all.
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Originally posted on Nov 07, 2013
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