Founding of the Marine Corps
A legacy is born
During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.
A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.
The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.
As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.
Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.
Marine Corps Birthday: (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)
All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.
Gen. Lejeune's order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.
Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Quantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.
The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place on Philadelphia in 1925. First class Marine Corps style, all the way! Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (in 1925 the term "politically correct" didn't exist; it was Secretary of War, not Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, Gen. Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.
Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant's birthday message to the Corps.
Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing remains constant, the tenth day of November! This unique holiday for warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country. Throughout the world on 10 November, U.S. Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps -- the most loyal, most feared, most revered, and most professional fighting force the world has ever known.
The USMC Commandant Message for 2009:
R 051329Z OCT 09
MSGID/GENADMIN/CMC WASHINGTON DC DMCS//
SUBJ/UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY MESSAGE - 10 NOVEMBER 2009//
1. UNITED STATES MARINES REPRESENT THE BEST YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN OUR NATION HAS TO OFFER. TO BE A MARINE IS TO BE A MEMBER OF AMERICA'S WARRIOR CLASS - TO BE ONE OF THE FEW WHO STEPS FORWARD WITH THE COURAGE AND CONVICTION TO FACE WHATEVER DANGERS AWAIT. OUR NATION EXPECTS HER MARINES TO BE READY WHEN THE NATION CALLS; TO LEAVE FAMILY AND THE COMFORTS OF HOME BEHIND; TO MARCH INTO BATTLE AND THRIVE UNDER AUSTERITY; AND TO COME HOME UNDER A VICTORY PENNANT.
2. FROM AL ANBAR IN THE WEST OF IRAQ, TO HELMAND PROVINCE IN THE SOUTH OF AFGHANISTAN, OUR CORPS OF MARINES CAN ALWAYS EXPECT TO BE FOUND WHERE THE FIGHT IS TOUGHEST. SUCH IS OUR HISTORY. TODAY, AS WE WRITE THE FINAL CHAPTER ON OUR VICTORY IN IRAQ, WE WILL INCREASINGLY TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY IN AFGHANISTAN AND ADD NEW PAGES TO OUR LEGACY IN PLACES CALLED DELARAM, NOW ZAD, AND GARMSIR. ONE DAY, WE WILL RETURN TO OUR NAVAL HERITAGE AND PATROL THE HIGH SEAS WITH OUR NAVY BROTHERS. SUCH IS OUR FUTURE.
3. AS WE CELEBRATE OUR CORPS' 234TH BIRTHDAY, WE FIRST PAUSE TO REFLECT AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THOSE MARINES WHO HAVE GIVEN THE LAST FULL MEASURE IN DEFENSE OF FREEDOM. WE EXTEND OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO OUR MARINE CORPS FAMILIES - THE UNSUNG HEROES WHO ENDURE HARDSHIP AND SACRIFICE SO THAT WE ARE ABLE TO GO FORWARD AND ACCOMPLISH ANY MISSION. WE EXTEND OUR APPRECIATION TO OUR COUNTRYMEN WHO HAVE ANSWERED OUR EVERY NEED. AND WE CELEBRATE THE MAGNIFICENT MEN AND WOMEN WHO WILLINGLY AND SELFLESSLY CONTINUE TO GO INTO HARM'S WAY TO PROTECT THIS GREAT NATION.
4. TO ALL WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE, TO THOSE WHO WEAR THE UNIFORM TODAY, AND TO THE FAMILIES THAT GIVE US THE STRENGTH TO FORGE AHEAD - I WISH YOU ALL A HEARTFELT HAPPY 234TH BIRTHDAY!
5. SEMPER FIDELIS! JAMES T. CONWAY, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS, COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS//
Thank you, Marines, and Happy Birthday!