I am lucky to be able to claim two birthdays in my life. My first birthday, of course, is when I entered this world as an infant. My second birthday, which I have celebrated for the past 20 years is the day that represents my entering the world as a man.
November 10, 1775 is remembered as the Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. No matter where they are around the globe, Marines both former and current, stop on on this day to remember those who have gone before us and commemorate them with a toast of bubbly, beer, punch, or iodine-tablet-purified canteen water, whichever is readily available and fitting to their particular situation.
To this day, a message written to his Marines by the Corps' 13th Commandant, Major General John Lejeune, is read. Our celebration can be attributed to his message:
On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.
The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of it's existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. 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.
I bear neither tattoos nor the scars of war to show my service in the Marine Corps. But the memories of my brothers, those with whom I served faithfully...the memories of those whose hard charging warrior instinct earned the nickname from the Germans of "Teufel Hunden" or Devil Dogs...the memories of those who currently patrol the 100+ degree sands of Iraq...and so many more are deeply emblazened on my heart and fill me with pride every step I take on this Earth, no matter where I may roam.
For all of you who are former Marines and active Marines, Happy 233rd Birthday Marines!
I too will feel that chill down my spine tonight as I toast our history, our brothers, our Corps and the country which we serve.
My chest too will swell with pride as I sing the powerful refrain of our Hymn.
And I too will always and forever be proud of the bad-ass organization, the band of brothers that is...The United States Marine Corps.