On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” to serve as landing force and shipyard security for the recently organized navy fleet, there the United States Marine Corps was born. The decree of establishment for the Continental Marines was a follows:
“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 as 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 for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines.”
It is said that the creation of the Marine Corps took place in a bar called Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under Commandant Samuel Nicholas. Nicholas apparently recruited Marines to enlist, but the debate is still out if it was done at Tun Tavern or earlier in that day at Nicholas’s family tavern, the Conestoga Waggon.
Each year the United States Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated with a traditional ball and cake-cutting ceremony. These celebrations are done all over the world. The cake-cutting ceremony has specific guidelines as to the order in which those in attendance receive a slice of cake. The first to receive a slice is the guest of honor, the second to the oldest Marine present, and the oldest Marine then gives the third slice to someone of significance that is younger. This signifies the passing of knowledge and experience from the older to the younger Marines as an emphasis of care and support for our young Marines before their own needs.
Marines have a deep love for loyalty and family. As the stepmother of a Marine, I took the liberty of reaching out to my Marine’s mother and spouse to ask them why they too loved the Marine Corps. As we celebrate the United States Marine Corps 242th birthday, I wanted to encourage the families of fellow Marine’s near and far to rally together in support and honor of their Marine this year. When speaking with our Marine’s mother one of her biggest reasons for loving the Marine’s is because of what they stand for; Honor, Courage, and Commitment. These are three things she too stands for and as a mother, knowing your son not only stands for that in family but for country is a remarkable feeling. Honoring one another in the good, bad, and ugly is important to a Marine both at war and at home. Having the courage to maintain that honor even when it gets tough and also if you feel like quitting can only be done by understanding the commitment you have made to family and country. These three things are a 3-cord knot, tied together as a band of one brotherhood, the Marines. She went on to say how the care they show to one another has created in our Marine a deeper bond for loyalty and camaraderie that will stand the test of time. Semper Fidelis —a Latin phrase that means "always faithful”. It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps usually shortened to Semper Fi and was adopted in 1883.
Though we celebrate the first birthday of November 10, 1775, as the Marine Corps birthday, this has not always been the case. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the Continental Marines was disestablished along with the Continental Navy. The Marine Corps was re-established on July 11, 1798, when the "act for establishing and organizing a Marine Corps" was signed by President John Adams. July 11 became the day Marines celebrated their birthday until 1921 when Major Edwin North McClellan sent a memorandum to Commandant John A. Lejeune. He suggested that the Marine Corps birthday is celebrated on its originating birthdate of November 10. Lejeune, being in charge of the Corp’s fledgling historical section declared an order in Marine Order 47 and on November 10, 1921, the United States Marine Corps celebrated its longstanding birthday celebration as we do today.
Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, NC is named after Commandant Lejeune. It is one of the oldest Marine Bases in the US and still is home to thousands of Marines and their families today. This is the first base our Marine was stationed. His spouse was newly married and moved away from everything she knew to live there. When I asked her why she loved the Marines her answer was easy; community. When you are young and moving to a new place, it can be tough to make friends or feel welcomed. She is reminded of the warm welcome she experienced upon the arrival to Camp Lejeune all those years ago. Her first experience as a wife in the Marines could have been terrifying, but thankfully the Marine community welcomed her with open arms and made her feel like family supporting her along the way. She is very grateful for her extended family today and wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
The Marines are well-known for being the most regimented and are considered to be the most fit of all US Military Branches. They are not an airman, sailor or soldier; they are Marines. Marine is always capitalized, and it is wise not ever to forget that because they will correct you. The term “jarhead” is slang for a Marine due to their high-and-tight haircut. The Marines are under the Department of the Navy. There is no such thing as the Department of the Marine Corps. Marine Bootcamp is held in San Diego and Parris Island. Women only go to Parris Island. The nickname “leathernecks” comes from Marines being issued leather straps to protect them from sword fights during the battle from 1798 - 1872. The term is so widespread it became the name of the Marine Corps Magazine, Leatherneck. Devil Dogs is another slang word for Marines coined from the German Army. After a long battle in Paris during June of 1918, in an official German report, they wrote “teufel hunden” meaning devil dogs in regards to the mighty force, fury and, surprise they saw out of the U.S. Marines fighting the battle.”
As we pause to celebrate the Marine Corps this November, I feel honored and privileged to be among those who are part of this great community. I give my gratitude and thanks to these courageous men and women who have chosen to take up their place in the Marine Corps to continue to fight for the freedom of this great American nation. Happy Birthday, Marines, oorah!
By: Jena Muller is the CEO & Founder of Trident Transitions Veteran Foundation. She has been a part of the US Navy SEAL community since 2006 and is an intricate part of the transitioning Special Operation Force community. With 13+ years of success-driven experience in resume/CV writing and brand management and consulting, she is bridging the gap between military and Corporate America. Jena is passionate about the success of the SOF community after the military and works tirelessly to ensure their success. She is always open to collaborate with like-minded organizations in order to assist elite military veterans into highly competitive job markets.
Photo courtesy of author