Today marks the 235th celebration of the United States Marine Corps. This is definitely a Big Deal. Every single November 10th will be a big deal until the sun goes nova.
All over the world, Marines are celebrating the occasion. There must a cake, of course. A Marine Corps-sized birthday cake is preferable but under battle conditions, something out of one of the sergeant’s MREs with maybe a cigarette for a candle. That’ll do. If it’s too small to share with everyone, then the youngest and the oldest Marines present give one another a piece of whatever is supposed to pass for “The Cake”.
Think of U.S. Marines as the Roman Catholics of American military. Surviving boot camp creates a bond one never forgets. A kind of Baptism by Fire complete with rituals, traditions, and esprit de corps.
I remember one fellow who told us great stories about his Drill Instructors at Parris Island. It seems George’s group had a tendency to find everything hysterically funny. Probably the emphasis here should be on “hysteria”. When you’re nineteen and being ummm…molded…yeah that’s it, molded into a Marine, hysterical laughter could be a normal reaction.
Well, George’s D.I.s weren’t able to control the outbreaks of hysterical laughter which seemed to occur randomly in this group.
So what they did was…
… they told these jarheads-to-be that if they were going to cackle like hens, then they could roost like hens. Thus every day in which there was an outbreak of hysteria, the “hens” would have to roost in the rafters that night instead of hitting the sack. After a day of marching and close order drill, that roost in those drafty rafters must’ve made a deep impression. George said that by the end of the week, the laughing had died out. Funny thing was, while he told us this tale, he couldn’t stop laughing.
Of course today the D.I.s couldn’t get away with such cruel and unusual discipline. Being creative, however, I’m sure they’ve come up with some p.c. remedy for hysteria. (Like maybe paper bags over the heads of the offenders? Hey, it works for hyperventilation; I saw a doctor use this remedy in the Emergency Room one time when a Gypsy woman became hysterical when accused of stealing all the staffs’ wallets. Yeah, she did eventually return them.)
So back to the history of the Leathernecks:
…the Continental Congress resolved on November 10, 1775, “That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant-Colonels, two Majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of Privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalion of Marines.”
Its first commandant, Samuel Nicholas, was commissioned by the Continental Congress to find enough good men to fill those positions mentioned above. In a brilliant move -- considering what was required -- Commandant Nicholas convened his headquarters in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. By January 1776 he had sufficient numbers of new Marines ready to man the few vessels that comprised the Continental Navy.
The Heritage blog points out the difference (or one of them, anyway) between the Marines and the other services:
[Unlike] the Army and Navy, there is no mention of the Marine Corps in the U.S. Constitution and no mandate for Congress to fund the service. America’s elite expeditionary amphibious assault force is supported by Congress not because it has to, but because it wants to…
In other words, as Marines would say, “ooH Rah!” which is what follows after “Semper Fi!” Yes, they do talk in exclamation points sometimes. It’s a jarhead thing.
Speaking of jarheads, be sure to take a look at Jarhead wine, especially Jarhead Red, which was reviewed by our Gates of Vienna oenologist. Our own oenologist, mind you, and a fellow who holds his Marine Corps friends in special esteem. Which is why he was willing to test the wine for them.
Birthday cake and Jarhead wine and then maybe some cadenced running?
Yes, I could’ve given you the Marine Corps Hymn, but these cadences sound mighty fine. And this is a nice G-rated version.
There are thousands of American military deployed around the world. We got an email today reminding us that Thanksgiving is coming up soon. We’ll pass on the information about the food boxes for those in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re packing them with everything but the turkey.
You can go here if you want to donate a package.
And if you’re the praying type, say one for Trey who is now in his 3rd week of boot camp. His momma tears up when she thinks about it. Her boy is going to return to his momma a different person, which I suspect is one of the reasons for her tears. I’m sure he’ll say to her at least once, “Aw, Ma. Cut it out. I’m a man now. Believe me, Ma, I am one heckuva man”. Which will show he’s made the transition back, however briefly, to civilian conversation. That in itself may be harder than boot camp.
You might want to visit also the open thread at Newsbusters for this occasion. Two hundred and thirty-five years old and counting. The country may be going to hell in a hand basket, but the Marines are, as always, the Faithful Few.
The Army motto of a few years back (I hope it’s been gently retired by now) used to blare in a musical commercial, “Be All You Can Be”. An old gunny heard that and snorted, All you can BE??? Where do they get this #@$%^%$ ‘stuff’?? How about we’ll make your *&^%$* self into a MAN, boy. WE’ll decide what you can BE, by ^&%^$*#” and then we’ll tell you what it is!” Like I said, 235 years of that. Enjoy what’s left of this special day.
Come to think of it, you could just stay up carousing all night and transiition right into tomorrow celebrating Veterans Day . President Obama hasn’t issued an executive order banishing it. Yet.