“Happy Birthday, Marine!” That is something you may hear or see a lot of in your social media feed, every year on November 10th. The Continental Marines were established on that day in 1775 . Now, I won’t pretend to be a Marine Corps historian. I won’t rattle off a bunch of facts that you can easily find in a google search. But, I will share with you how celebrating the history and traditions of the Marine Corps inspires me. After all, if you want to learn how to pass down traditions for generations, looking to the Marine Corps is a great place to start!
Celebrating the history and traditions of the Marine Corps inspires me.
My husband joined the Marine Corps in 1998. Almost every year we have celebrated the birth of the Marine Corps together. I say “almost” every year because we often find ourselves separated by continents or oceans. My husband has been away from home many times on the Corps’ birthday. But, deployment never stops the Marines from celebrating their birthday. No matter where they are, here at home in fancy Dress Blues, or far way in war-torn cammies, the Marines always make time to celebrate the Corps’ birthday.
One of the most memorable Birthday Balls we attended was in Hawaii. The pomp and circumstance, and brilliant pageantry the Marines displayed was unforgettable. As part of the ceremony a few, select Marines dressed in almost every uniform of the Corps’ history. As each one entered the room they read a brief history of the Corps’ accomplishments during that era. It was amazing to see each one standing there, representing generations of dedication, loyalty and service. Then they presented the cake. Four Marines escorted the largest birthday cake I had ever seen to the center of the ballroom floor.
The cake-ceremony is a perfect representation of passing traditions along to a new generation.
The birthday cake is traditionally cut with the Mameluke sword. It’s used as a reminder that they are a band of warriors, committed to carrying the sword, so that our nation may live in peace. Every time I hear that I get choked up. My favorite part is the traditional passing of cake from the oldest Marine present to the youngest Marine present, . It demonstrates the passing of experience and heart of the Corps to the next generation. I’m not sure Marines would call it beautiful, but I cannot think of a better word to describe it. We should all be so lucky to have an older generation care so much about future generations. They take the time to pass along their experience and knowledge; not for their glory, but for our benefit. It’s beautiful and a sight!
But, the Marine Corps’ Birthday is not only about celebrating the Corps’ birthday. It’s also about remembering those who have gone before us and those we have lost. At every birthday celebration you will find a table draped in black, though only set for one, represents the many we have lost. This is where the fallen join them in spirit. Marines never forget those, who gave their last, full measure of devotion in defense of their fellow Marine, their beloved Corps and our nation.
Happy Birthday, Marines!
Thank you for inspiring me to be purposeful in passing traditions to the next generation.