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Marine Corps Birthday 243

History of the Marine Corps Birthday

November 10th is the official Marine Corps Birthday because that is when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines in 1775. The Continental Congress decreed that two battalions of Marines be raised to serve during the war between Great Britain and the Colonies. They also decreed that these two battalions consist of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels and two majors and that all recruits be good seamen or well acquainted with maritime affairs. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, Congress disestablished the Continental Marines as well as the Continental Navy. It wouldn’t be re-established until President John Adams re-established it in July of 1798. However, although July 11 would become the actual date that the modern Marine Corps was re-established, November 10th would remain forever as its birthday.

Throughout the years, the Marine Corps as an organization didn’t celebrate its birthday. Sure, individual marines would acknowledge that November 10th was the Marine Corps Birthday, but there wouldn’t be an organization-wide celebration. However, that was changed in 1921. This is when Major Edwin North McClellan suggested to Commandant John A. Lejeune that November 10th be established as the official birthday of the Marine Corps. On November 1st, 1921, Commandant Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order 47–the order that established November 10th as the official birthday of the Marine Corps.

It wasn’t until 1925, however, that the first formal ball was held. From this period all the way to the beginning of the 1950s, Marine Birthday Balls were held every year but they didn’t have formal ceremonies. Some of them included mock battles, others were held as pageants or sporting events. It wasn’t until 1952 that the celebrations would be standardized by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. and it wasn’t until 1956 that these procedures would be placed in the official Marine Corps Drill Manual.

Marine Corps Birthday Customs & Celebrations

By tradition, celebrations are as follows: a cake is presented and sliced with the first slice given to the oldest Marine present; the oldest Marine then passes it to the youngest Marine present – which symbolizes the transfer of experience from veterans to a new generation of marines. Then there is a reading of Marine Corps Order 47 and a message from the current Commandant. When possible, the Marine Corps Birthday celebration also includes a ball or banquet with food and dancing.

Marines are known to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday no matter where they are stationed or in what conditions they are currently living. By tradition, they celebrate this day regardless of whether they are at home or in some inhospitable climate, halfway around the world.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018 (All day)

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