Marine Corps birthday celebrates 235 years of the few, the proud
"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.
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.
| November 10, 2010; 9:35 AM ET
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