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Marine Corps birthday celebrates 235 years of the few, the proud

By Melissa Bell
Marine Corps Birthday
The sun begins to rise behind the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also called the Iwo Jima Memorial, on Nov. 10, 2010, in Arlington. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

"The Few, the Proud": So says an old advertising slogan of the U.S. Marine Corps, and so it is. The Marines are the smallest branch of the U.S. armed forces, but their reputation outmatches their size. Today, the Marines celebrate their 235th anniversary, born before the country was in 1775.

"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" Eleanor Roosevelt once said.

The Marine Corps makes up less than 11 percent of the U.S. military but more than 23 percent of the Americans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Daily News notes. Yet, they are fiercely one of the proudest groups with a strong alumni following and high-profile events such as the Marine Corps. Marathon, now in its 35th year (see a gallery of the event here).

Around the world, Marines celebrate the day with a cake tradition: The guest of honor gets the first piece of the birthday cake decorated with the U.S. Marine logo, the oldest Marine gets the second and then the youngest Marine gets the third, Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a captain in the Marine Corps. told me in a phone interview.

After the cake, a birthday message from John A. Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the marines, is read. Lejeune is known as the "Marine's Marine," and headed the Corps. from 1920 to 1929.

"So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.," the message reads.

I wondered whether the folks at Camp Pendelton in Southern California were setting off mystery missiles, but, in fact, they were settling in for a steak and lobster luncheon.

A more somber birthday note has been making the Facebook rounds:

"Say a prayer for 'Darkhorse' 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have lost 9 marines in 4 days. Please re-post this."

The loss has been even heavier than that. Thirteen members of the troop have been killed since the battalion hit the Sangin area of northeastern Helmand province in October.

Update: Reader Cwdendurent1 points out that the motto of the Marine Corps. is Latin for "always faithful." "Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what."

Update II: A British documentary on the U.S. Marines has been posted in full to YouTube. "Bravo's Deadly Mission" follows the Bravo company inside Marjah. "There's no worse enemy than a United States Marine," a solider states as the film starts. It's a gripping documentary that takes viewers along for a harrowing ride with the Marines.

By Melissa Bell  | November 10, 2010; 9:35 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

Semper Fidelis to the Marine Corps!

And, let me reitterate: its Marine Corps.... not CORPSE, Mr. Obama!!

Posted by: ThruHeavensEyez | November 10, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

For 235 years, Marines have stood ready to serve our country in every clime and place, distinguishing themselves in battle and continue to do so. My thoughts today are with those young Marines in Afghanistan where they face daunting odds against a determined, fanatical enemy. May God bless them all and provide for a speedy, safe return home.

I pay silent tribute today and on every November 10th to all those who went before me, and after, having given so much in service to their Corps and country. Now decades older, I clearly remember many with whom I served as young men unselfish in their dedication and unwavering in their loyalty while never questioning their duty to defend our nation. Always with a determined 'Gung Ho' attitude, Marines have stood ready to fight our country's battles "on the land, in the air, or at sea" wherever and whenever called upon.

See my entire tribute in my article here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1195999/marine_corps_birthday_today_nov_10.html?cat=9

Posted by: denniscopson | November 10, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

This article was poorly researched. Opening with marketing, and adressing it as "the motto" should not have slipped past your writers and editors.

The official motto of the Marine Corps is
Semper Fidelis, and is described at the following web address:

http://www.marines.com/main/index/making_marines/culture/traditions/semper_fidelis

More than a motto, a way of life
Semper Fidelis distinguishes the Marine Corps bond from any other. It goes beyond teamwork – it is a brotherhood and lasts for life.

Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what.

Becoming a Marine is a transformation that cannot be undone, and Semper Fi reminds us of that. Once made, a Marine will forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps.

There is no such thing as an ex-Marine.

It is perfectly ok if you do not understand this motto, but for those of us who do, please do not misquote it.

Posted by: cwdendurent1 | November 10, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"...if the Army and the Navy
ever look on Heaven's Scenes,
they will find the streets are guarded,
by United States Marines!"

The Marine Corps Hymn

Posted by: historyStudent1 | November 10, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Bell,
Don't you think you could have found a more flattering quote to honor this awe-inspiring group of service members than that one from Eleanor Roosevelt? Also, I will add to the chorus concerning how clueless you must be about US military culture to think even for a second that the Marine motto was not Semper Fidelis, but some advertising slogan.

You need to do a better job.

Posted by: pcalvert | November 10, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

My Dad served as a Marine as did most of my Uncles. My son will also be enlisting next year. I can not begin to tell you what this day means to all of them and my family. Do the Marines a favor and go back through your article and capatalize their name. It is Marine not marine. Have and show some respect. Next time you decide to attempt to write an article about the Marines, do your research first. This is a disgrace and very poorly written.

Posted by: jordynsrose | November 10, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The girls in the usa *marines assist the cowards in the fbi/cia in the torture & attempted murder of combat vet:
http://www.governmentattic.org/docs/USMC...
http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/part4-worldina...

(*always faithful to their sick purposes)

US army also assists the fbi in efforts to arrest same vet:
http://www.sosbeevfbi.com/part19-updatefor.html

Posted by: gsosbee1 | November 10, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I apologize for the mistake and, PCalvert, I am sorry you don't like the quote. I think it captures the humor and the pride I see in so many Marines. I'll correct the post now. Regards, Melissa

Posted by: Melissa Bell | November 10, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Semper fi to all Jarheads.
Now go GET SOME!

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

ThruHeavensEyez wrote:

Semper Fidelis to the Marine Corps!

And, let me reitterate: its Marine Corps.... not CORPSE, Mr. Obama!!
--------------------------------
From a Marine Corporal/Navy LCDR (ret): That was unnecessarily snarky and not in line with the traditions I learned in the Corps or the Navy.

Happy Birthday to all Marines, where ever you are!

Posted by: jamalmstrom | November 10, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't see that Ms. Bell ever claimed "The Few, The Proud" was the Marine Corps motto... WHERE does it say that? IT is however a very famous recruiting slogan forever linked to the Corps. Stop criticizing and get a life you whiners. I have a Marine who really WAS born today - and SHE would love and totally AGREE with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote. If you don't - you've never really been around Marines - you just like to idealize them for your own purposes. Great article, Ms. Bell - Thank you!

Posted by: MarinemomandAFretired | November 10, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

It seems US Marines today better represent who Americans are at their best.

Sadly I wish congress would have the United States interests above their, and their staffs.

Posted by: bm66535 | November 10, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Jarheads!

"Once a Marine always a Marine."

Clarence De Barrows
1190645
S/SGT USMC, 1951-54
Korea

Posted by: ClarenceEDeBarrows | November 10, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Jarheads!

"Once a Marine always a Marine."

Clarence De Barrows
1190645
S/SGT USMC, 1951-54
Korea

Posted by: ClarenceEDeBarrows | November 10, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The United States Marine Corps, travel agents to Allah.

Posted by: killemall | November 10, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Semper Fi,Mac Do or Die olive-drab,one each
It is a honor to serve the U.S.A & the Corps!Happy Birthday Devil Dogs!! Chuck Lewis 1/9 81's

Posted by: chucklewis72 | November 10, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Semper Fi,Mac Do or Die olive-drab,one each
It is a honor to serve the U.S.A & the Corps!Happy Birthday Devil Dogs!! Chuck Lewis 1/9 81's

Posted by: chucklewis72 | November 10, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

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