The United States Marine Corps celebrates its 241st birthday this year on November 10th, so here are four facts about one of the oldest branches of our military.
It has had two birthdays
There was little pomp early
Between 1925 and 1952, celebrations varied from dances, mock battles, and small parties. The Marine Corps then moved to have a celebration that includes a ball and cake cutting. This tradition was formalized in 1952 by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., the procedure for which ended up in the Drill Manual in 1956.
There is a procedure for cutting the cake.
The cake cutting is a formal event that is meant to symbolize the age and tradition of the Corps. The first slice of cake is given to the oldest Marine present who then gives it to the youngest. This is to show the passing of knowledge and tradition between generations.
They went through a few mottoes
The official motto of the Marine Corps is "Semper Fidelius" which translates from Latin to "Always Faithful." This motto was established in 1883. Before that it had three:
The first, antedating the War of 1812, was “Fortitudine” (“With Fortitude”). The second, “By Sea and by Land,” was obviously a translation of the Royal Marine’s “Per Mare, Per Terram.” Until 1848, the third motto was “To the Shores of Tripoli,” in commemoration of O’Bannon’s capture of Derna in 1805. In 1848, after the return to Washington of the Marine battalion that took part in the capture of Mexico City, this motto was revised to: “From the Halls of the Montezumas to the Shores of Tripoli" – a line now familiar to all Americans. This revision of the Corps motto in Mexico has encouraged speculation that the first stanza of “The Marines’ Hymn” was composed by members of the Marine battalion who stormed Chapultepec Castle.