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Keeping tradition through celebration

By Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | November 13, 2015

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Marines will celebrate the 240th Marine Corps Birthday Ball throughout the month of November. Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the Tri-command hold ceremonies to honor the history and heritage of the Corps.

“Welcome as we celebrate the 240th birthday of our Corps,” said Maj Gen. Charles L. Hudson, the commander of Marine Corps Installations Command and the assistant deputy commandant of Installations and Logistics. Hudson was the guest of honor at the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Birthday Ball Nov 6. “If you are wearing this uniform we look pretty good to be 240 years old.”

Celebrations of the Marine Corps Birthday begin with a special video presentation entitled the “Commandant’s Birthday Message,” followed by a customary reading of the first birthday message by Gen. John A. Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the Corps.

“As we celebrate the 240th birthday of our Corps, we pay tribute to all who have served and we remember our fallen heroes,” said Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps in his message. “We take great pride in our legacy and in the fine men and women who carry our colors into the future. And we extend heartfelt thanks to our families for their steadfast support.”

Traditionally, the ball recognizes the youngest and oldest Marines in attendance with a cake cutting ceremony, a symbol of the past and present together. The guest of honor receives the first piece of cake followed by the oldest Marine present. The oldest Marine then passes the piece of cake to the youngest Marine, symbolizing the passing of experience and wisdom.

“At a bar in Philadelphia, that’s where we were born,” said Hudson. “When you look at the years since then and what we have done around the world, we have served this country and fought this nation’s battles in every clime and place.”

On Nov. 10, 1775, the Continental Congress formed the Marines to help the Continental Navy conduct ship-to-ship fighting, shipboard security, and assist in landing forces. Since then, the Marine Corps has marked Nov. 10, 1775 as its official birthday.

The first formal birthday ball was celebrated in Philadelphia in 1925, where a memorial plaque was unveiled at Tun Tavern. The tavern is the official birthplace of the Marine Corps since the first Marines were recruited there. Since then, the ball has grown to become a hallowed tradition for Marines around the world.

“Always at this time of year we look back and remember the birthday of our Corps and those who came before us whose legacy we try to live up to each and every day,” said Hudson.

The ceremony concludes with the retiring of the colors and the playing of Anchors Aweigh and the Marines’ Hymn.

“Whether you served on the hallowed grounds of Belleau Wood, fought on the iconic island battle fields of World War II, navigated the harsh terrain and climate of the Chosin Reservoir or Vietnam, conducted assaults during Desert Storm, marched on Baghdad, fought in close combat in Fallujah, or conducted combat operations in Afghanistan; everyone who wears the Eagle Globe and Anchor is a member of that storied legacy,” said Neller.


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