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2019


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Marine Corps Birthday

November 10

The U.S. Marine Corps Birthday celebrates the history, memory of those who served before and rekindles the bond that unites all generations of Marines. It is a celebration of the profound respect for the Marine Corps traditions and reverence of the heritage that distinguishes the Corps of Marines.

The Marines Corps birthday will take place on Sunday, November 10, 2019. The Marine Corps turns 244 years old.

The birthday itself was formally recognized in 1921 at the behest of Major General John Lejeune, who ordered November 10, 1775 to be officially recognized service-wide as the Marine Corps birthday.

The origins go back to the Revolutionary War in October of 1775. At that time the Continental Congress developed an official plan to use Marines to oversee a mission to intercept ammunition shipments from Britain. This, and a November resolution to create an official standing Marine Corps force, were key in building what eventually became the modern U.S. Marine Corps. Thus 10 November, 1775, the day the Continental Marines were created serves as the official Marine Corps birthday.

How is the Marine Corps Birthday Celebrated?

The Marine Corps Birthday is not a federal-style “bank holiday” observed with post office and bank closures, days off at school, etc. Instead it is observed as an “internal” holiday by the various branches of the military, with local government and civic organizations holding events to celebrate the men and women who service as United States Marines. Formal dinners and “Birthday Ball Pageants” in Washington D.C. and on military installations worldwide are part of the recognition of Marine Corps Day.

Marine Corps Birthday Ball

 

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a celebration of Marine Corps history and traditions. The first known Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925 and has since evolved from a simple observance to an elaborate and tradition-filled day celebrated at military installations at home and abroad.

Marine Corps Birthday Ball Traditions

 

During the Birthday Ball a highlight of the evening is a ceremony. A key piece of the Marine Corps birthday celebration includes a cake cutting in celebration of the corps. While there is no exact format the general script involves cutting the cake with a Mameluke sword which gets it name from the cross hilt and ivory grip design and its use in Marine Corps dates back to 1805. The first piece of cake is generally given to the guest of honor and the second piece of cake goes to the oldest Marine present. The oldest Marine will often pass the cake to the youngest Marine to symbolize the passing of knowledge and experience. The ceremony typically also includes speeches, the reading of Gen. John A Lejeune’s birthday message, and a birthday message from the current Commandant.

Regardless of location Marines will pause to observe the birthday by sharing a cake and often a holiday meal too.

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