November 10 is far more than just another day on the calendar for the United States Marines, it is our birthday. The Marine Corps was founded at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on November 10, 1775. It was on this day that our great nation recruited her first Marines serving as this nation’s elite fighting force during the American Revolution and continuing to perform this same role today. During their first battles in the American Revolutionary War the Marines attacked off the sides of their own ships with small arms fire until they were close enough to board the enemy’s vessel which in this case were British. The Marines would then board these ships and either take them as their own or destroy them playing a vital role in America’s independence.
Despite this dates signification, November 10 was not formally recognized as the Marine Corps Birthday until 1921. It was during this year that the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps at the time; John A. Lejeune issued the Marine Corps Order Number 47. This order summarized the history, tradition, and mission of the Corps. It also said that this order would be read to all Marines every year on November 10 to honor the Marine Corps Birthday. After this the Marines added celebrating its birthday as a part of their tradition.
The celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday was first conducted by reading the Order of Lejeune to honor the day. But shortly after the initial Order being passed this idea of a birthday was further elaborated on. In 1923, various Commands of the Marines Corps started doing more of an event type of celebration. These celebrations were conducted originally by playing the Cuban baseball team in baseball and winning 9-8. Marines also celebrated by staging a mock battle on the parade grounds of Washington, and there was also a formal dance staged in Pennsylvania establishing the idea that would soon be a large part of the future birthday tradition.
In 1925 the idea of a formal dance grew into what is now known as the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. This is currently a large part of the celebration were Marines dress in their most senior uniform or nicest uniform and bring dates in ball gowns to celebrate and dance the evening away. In 1952, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. the Commandant of the Marines at the time also added a Cake-Cutting Ceremony to the celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday. This was conducted by the oldest Marine present at the birthday celebration cutting a piece of cake for him and the youngest Marine present and then passing the slice of cake to the youngest Marine. This shows the symbolic tradition of passing knowledge from the senior Marines to the junior ones. This part of the celebration is concluded by the reading of the Commandant of the Marine Corps Birthday message.
The Marine Corps Ball, the Cake-Cutting Ceremony, the reading of John A. Lejeune’s Order, and the current Commandant’s birthday messages are how the Marine Corps currently celebrate their birthday. This is a tradition that not all Marines of the past have been able to enjoy. So in our modern days I ask all of you reading about the history of the Marine Corps Birthday to remember this day not only for the Marines serving in conflict right now, but also for the hard chargers of conflicts long before 1923. I ask you to remember this day for them also. And I cannot forget the ones who never made it home at all, let’s celebrate for them also. So next year, on the day before Veteran’s Day remember to have a little extra fun and never forget the sacrifices my fellow Marines made so you could enjoy it.