Thursday, November 10, 2016

4 Facts about the Marine Corps on It's Birthday

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

Before 1921, the Marines celebrated their birthday on July 11th, as that was the date they were established formally for the new United States by John Adams in 1789. There was little celebration until 1925 when Major Edwin North McClellan the Corps historian sent Commandant John A. Lejeune a memo recommending changing the date to November 10th, the date the Continental Marines were established during the Revolution.

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.


United States Marine Corps History Division (via 

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