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Marines cut the cake during a Marine Corps birthday cake cutting ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 7. Marines celebrate the birthday with ceremonies that date back to the early 1920s.

Photo by Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

History repeats itself; Marines celebrate birthday with honored traditions

7 Nov 2013 | Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

Each year on November 10, Marines all around the world celebrate the birth of their Marine Corps. They participate and watch a ceremony laden with tradition to commemorate the day of the creation of the Continental Marines.

In 1775, at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, the Continental Congress approved the resolution for two battalions of Marines to be raised to protect the newly formed continental Navy. However, it was not until Gen. John A. Lejuene became the 13th commandant of the Marine Corps that the Marine Corps birthday was not only being honored, but celebrated.

The first Marine Corps Ball was held in the early 1920s in Virginia, where many military and political officials were invited. As more and more units began holding their own ceremonies, balls were formalized and the traditions began.
“[The birthday] is an anniversary to reflect on everybody who has been a Marine, everybody who is a Marine and everybody who will be Marine,” said Sgt. Gabriel Morales, a La Quinta, Calif., native, who took part in a birthday ceremony. “[The Marine Corps] isn’t just a war fighting institution, it’s a brotherhood.”

Lejuene wrote a letter mentioning the mission and importance of the Marine Corps. He also ordered that it be read to Marines for the birthday to summarize the history, mission and tradition of the Corps.

“It keeps everybody together,” said retired First Sgt. Joe Jackson. “We all come to serve together. It’s a feeling you can’t explain; overwhelming pride.”

Today, Marines celebrate yearly with new messages given each year by the commandant. A cake cutting ceremony commemorates the passing of wisdom from one generation to the other. It is customary that the oldest Marine present takes the first bite of birthday cake and passes a piece on to the youngest.

“During the 238 years of the Marine Corps, it doesn’t matter if you were here in the beginning, for 40 years or for four years, we’re all a part of that tradition,” said Col. John Farnam, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. “We all joined the Corps and now we are a part of that line never to change.”

This year, the Marine Corps celebrated its 238th birthday. Marines everywhere celebrated it with time tested and honored tradition.

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing