“On Nov. 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history. The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres, and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security. 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. This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we, who are Marines today, have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as ‘Soldiers of the Sea’ since the founding of the Corps.”

This is Marine Corps Order No. 47 that Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune issued on Nov. 1, 1921 describing the history, mission and tradition of the Corps. He directed that it be read at every command on Nov. 10 and this order has been faithfully carried out.

Over the years the celebration evolved into a formal event with a ceremonial birthday cake. Traditionally the first piece of cake is presented to the oldest Marine present and the second piece presented to the youngest Marine present. This may be amended by the local Commander to honor distinguished guests. All Marines worldwide will celebrate their Corps birthday as formally as conditions permit, and any Marine in any part of the world is automatically invited to the local ceremony in the best uniform he has available.

The four words that put fear in the hearts of oppressors and hope in the souls of the oppressed, “The Marines have landed” are just as poignant today as they have ever been. The “New Breed” is stronger, faster and more adept, but just as dedicated, devoted, and determined as Marines have always been and they are writing new chapters in the history of the Corps and they bring great credit upon themselves, the Corps and this great country. The motto “Semper Fidelis,” (Always Faithful) is an embedded attitude; the concept of “Every Marine is a rifleman” defines the basic principle of all who serve; and “Accomplishment of the Mission and Welfare of the Troops” as the operational guide is direct and succinct. The Motto, Principal, and guide have served all Marines past and present, and will serve the future.

There are 52 weeks in a year with seven days each for a total of 364 days. The 365th day is the 10th of November, the birthday of the United States Marine Corps, and a fine day it is too. This week, especially on Thursday, if you see a Marine, active duty or former, wish him or her a hearty Happy Birthday. If you see any military person, say “Thank You”. They all have earned it and deserve it.

Happy Birthday Marines!

Semper Fi.

Carry on.

(Peter J. Lepo is a Major (retired) from the United States Marine Corps, an Edmond business professional and a former member of The Sun’s editorial board)


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