Today marks the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
2020 is also a year of significant anniversaries in Marine Corps history:
- The 75th anniversary of World War II battles like the ones at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The featured image is the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines raising the U.S. flag on top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945.
- The 70th anniversary of the Landing at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.
- The 55th anniversary of Marines arriving in Da Nang, Vietnam.
On November 10, 1775, the 2nd Continental Congress passed the Continental Marine Act of 1775, a resolution that called for two battalions of Marines to serve as landing forces with the fleet. The resolution served to establish the Continental Marines and the birth date of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“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.”The Continental Marine Act of 1775, 2nd Continental Congress, Philadelphia, PA
Since then, the U.S. Marine Corps has served as protectors of the nation’s interests around the world and has participated in every war since 1812. In most cases, Marines were the first servicemembers to fight. As a result, many Marines are proud of their service’s heritage and traditions.
Over the years, the Corps developed many traditions. One of the most prominent traditions is the Marine Corps Ball that involves dancing, presenting the Colors, and cutting a birthday cake with a sword. Commands across the globe plan the ball to celebrate the birth of the Corps, bringing Marines together for a sometimes raucous but respectful celebration.
In 2020, the tradition of the Marine Corps Ball has been altered in order to public health first and foremost because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, commands have largely canceled the ball but have provided Marines access to ceremonies virtually. For example, the III MEF issued a pre-recording of their commander, Lt. Gen. Stacy H. Clardy, cutting the cake along with messages from commanders across subordinate commands. Even in the face of a global pandemic, the USMC continues to demonstrate the American ability to adapt and overcome.
The Corps also issues a MARADMIN (668/20) outlining Marine Corps Birthday content. Below is taken from this year’s message from General Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
“If there were a watchword for 2020, the shortlist would certainly include ‘change,’ ‘uncertainty,’ and ‘adaptation.’ This new dynamic and uncertain environment has impacted how we recruit and train Marines, deploy aboard ship, and even how we honor our Corps’ hallowed traditions. But adapting to change and uncertainty is nothing new for Marines. It is what we have done for 245 years and what is expected of us as the Nation’s force-in-readiness. Where others see challenges, Marines see opportunities. We don’t take a knee. We will always be ready to answer the nation’s call, no matter the crisis.”A Message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps (2020), David H. Berger, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps
With all its history and tradition, the United States Marine Corps brings with it nearly two and a half centuries of Honor, Courage & Commitment, the core values that serve as the bedrock of each and every Marine’s character.