The day comes ‘round once more. Two hundred and thirty six years old and still counting…
November 10, 1775. That’s the codified date of the birth of the today’s United States Marine Corps. Now, 236 years later, it’s still a going concern with far more traditions and tales than any other branch of the military.
For one thing, there’s the great founding story of the first recruitment of ‘a few good men’ during the Revolutionary War. With the approval of the Continental Congress, Captain Nicholas signed up two battalions’ worth at Tun’s Tavern in Philadelphia. Most Marines find this birthplace — a tavern — most fitting for their gung-ho esprit de corps. However, Tun’s had also been the site of the creation of the Masons in Philadelphia, and various other civic organizations.
Recall that back then, aside from churches, there would have been few large meeting houses to hold numbers of people. And especially there would there not have been any large enough to accommodate the variety of men attracted to this new ‘naval army’. Come to think of it, Tun’s would have been an exclusively male setting. We’d be hard put to find such a politically incorrect environment today. What a sad loss for our culture.
The Marine Corps Birthday is serious business, mind you. Serious fun, though. For example, there are birthday cakes at all Marine Corps installations, including far-flung deployments in hellholes wherever they’re sent. Marine Corps balls, a tradition since the 1920s or so, are held all over the country, with strict rules of etiquette
Men are expected to wear their full dress uniforms and the ladies accompanying them would be expected to wear formal dresses. The old etiquette required that gowns be “below the knee” but I doubt even the manly gravitas of the Corps can prevail against women’s fashions. Ah well, at least those dress uniforms still look splendid. I wonder how many a young boy joined up just for the chance to wear those Marine Corps blues back home?
And remember I said the Corps has something for every occasion? Here is a version of the Marine’s prayer, displaying all the virtues a Marine holds fast:
Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family.
Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.
If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.
Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.
Have you ever wondered about the Marine Corps Hymn? For instance, the opening line, where it says “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”? The first refers to a battle in Mexico, the latter to the Marine Corps’ Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon’s hoisting of the American flag in a victory against the pirates of the Barbary Coast. I'm glad he couldn't see the future, where pirates are free to take whatever they want.
Here’s the wiki, which brought back some old laughter. This verse is only sung during toasts, not at solemn events:
…If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By The United States Marines.
Marines are sure that’s true. Just ask one.