As is my custom, I try to commemorate important dates in American history as they come around every year. I first posted this piece on the birthday of the United States Marine Corps last year and, except for acknowledging the change in the circumstances of my nephew's deployment, I see very little else that I would like to change.

The Continental Marine Corps, landing for the Battle of Nassau.
Although I personally served in the US Army many, many years ago, the 10th of November has taken on a new significance to me, of late, because of my brother’s son. As most frequent visitors to this blog already know, my youngest nephew is a US Marine who has only recently returned from an extended deployment overseas. This was his first overseas deployment and, as might be expected, it was a long, dangerous, and often arduous tour; however, difficult as this period was for all of us here in the “States” who worried about him, his reassignment to duty in the US has been a great relief to us all. Moreover, it appears that, barring unforeseen circumstances, he should be serving "Stateside" for some time to come. So, in recognition of the service of my nephew and also of that of the thousands of other men and women who wear the “Globe and Anchor,” I have decided to join the small chorus of those who celebrate the birth of the Marine Corps two-hundred and thirty-six years ago, today.

General John A Lejeune with
French Legion of Honor medal.
Just like the new nation that it was intended to serve, the Marine Corps came into existence during the Revolutionary War; and its accomplishments, from that day to the present, are too numerous to list. However, to honor its long and indispensable service to these United States, the date of the Corps’ establishment was formally commemorated by its 13th Commandant, the legendary Major General John A. Lejeune, on November 1st, 1921. On that date, the Commandant issued the following proclamation and ordered that it be disseminated on 10 November to every Marine unit under his command, wherever it was serving around the world. This tradition, first begun ninety years ago by the “Greatest Leatherneck of All Time,” continues to be followed to this day. Major General Lejeune’s special Birthday Proclamation reads as follows:

No. 47 (Series 1921)
Washington, November 1, 1921

759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10 November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date many thousands of 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.

(2) 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 its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war and in the long era of tranquility at home generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in both hemispheres, and in every corner of the seven seas so that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of the 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.

(4) 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 long 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.

Major General Commandant

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial,
(aka "The Iwo Jima Memorial")
Washington, D.C., Sunset Parade.
Major General Lejeune could not know, when he penned his Birthday Proclamation in 1921, what the coming years would hold for his beloved Corps. He could not know, for instance, that future generations of Marines would see bitter action in the Pacific, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan and Iraq; but, if the Commandant could not be sure where the coming generations of Marines would fight, he was nonetheless confident that those future Marines would meet whatever challenges they encountered head-on with all the skill, courage, fidelity, and determination demanded by the deeply-ingrained traditions of the Corps. And the general’s faith in the spirit and battle-worthiness of the Marines to come after him, future events would show, was well-placed.

Happy 236th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps; may it have many returns to come.



  • In keeping with the theme, what is your best movie about Marines?

  • Greetings Preston:

    Your question is tough one, but I will give it a shot.

    Probably my top three picks, in order of preference, would be:

    1. "Sands of Iwo Jima"
    2. "Guadalcanal Diary"
    3. "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison"

    There are elements of a number of other films that I like, but these three films -- however imperfectly -- attempt, I think, to capture the essence of the basic decency, traditions, and "esprit de corps" of the modern Marine Corps.

    Best Regards, Joe

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