Celebrating The Soldiers of the Sea

Posted on Wednesday 10 November 2010

It was on this date, 235 years ago, that the Second Continental Congress resolved to create two battalions of Continental Marines for the War of Independence from Britain. Then in 1798, President John Adams signed the Act establishing the United States Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In the last 212 years, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.

General John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, directed that November 10 of each year would be set aside to honor the Corps’ birthday. Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, issued by Lejeune, is to be read to every command on the day:

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

Major General Commandant

Today’s Marine Corps is made up of more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve soldiers. Each of the three divisions has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks’ notice. The Marines’ expeditionary units are unique in that they have their own tanks, artillery, and air forces; truly the Soldier’s Soldier and the Jack of All Trades when it comes to war.

In my younger days I spent some time in uniform, but with the South Dakota Air National Guard. About a year of my enlistment was spent on active duty, mostly for training. During that time I rubbed elbows with a lot of Marines, and there were times we Airmen would scoff at some of the stuff the Marines would do. Down deep though I think we envied the sense of tradition and camaraderie the Marines showed; at least I know I did.

So to all the Jarheads out there, thank you. Semper Fi, Do Or Die! Yell “OOOHrah” and don’t forget to grrr your lids on Friday.

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