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.
One of the traditions that has evolved over time is the cake-cutting ceremony. Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake goes to the guest of the honor; the second piece goes to the oldest U.S. Marine present, while the third piece goes to the youngest. Here is one of the examples of the script for the cake-cutting ceremony:
The Marine Corp’s birthday cake-cutting ceremony is important to all Marines, as it is an annual renewal of each Marine’s commitment to the Corps ... and the Corps’ commitment to our nations quest for peace and freedom worldwide.
The birthday cake is traditionally cut with the Mameluke sword, as a reminder that we are a band of warriors, committed to carrying the sword, so that our nation may live in peace. The Mameluke sword gets its name from the cross hilt and ivory grip design, similar to swords used for centuries by Ottoman warriors. The Marine Corps tradition of carrying this sword dates from Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon’s assault of Derna, Tripoli, in 1805, where he is said to have won the sword of the governor of
The first piece of cake is presented to the Guest of Honor. The second piece is presented to the oldest Marine in the command, signifying the honor and respect accorded to experience and seniority. The oldest Marine this evening is (name), who was born on (date) and enlisted on (date).
Symbolically, the eldest Marine present passes a piece of cake to the youngest Marine present, just as for years our experienced Marines have nurtured and led young Marines that will fill our ranks and renew our Corps. The youngest Marine present this evening is (name), who was born on (date) and enlisted on (date).
As Sturkey wrote:
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.
Happy Birthday U.S. Marines!