“First we fight for right and freedom; And to keep our honor clean; We are proud to claim the title of UNITED STATES MARINE.”
November 10th is a special day for Marines around the world as they celebrated its 243rd birthday. On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress approved the resolution to establish two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore – this date marked the official formation of the Continental Marines.
For the past six years a band of brothers led by Joe Mealey gather at the Marco Island Brewery to celebrate a special birthday, cut the traditional cake; sing a rousing rendition of the Marines’ Hymn and greet each other with Semper Fi.
It is the tradition for the senior Marine present to cut the birthday cake with a Marine Officer’s sword and pass the first piece of cake from the senior Marine present to the most junior Marine. It is a symbolic gesture of the passing of experience and knowledge. It is a tradition learned from basic training and at the Officers’ Candidates School. In some measure, the more senior marines in the group are making sure that the junior members will carry on the Marine Corps’ tradition. This year that honor belongs to Senior Marine, Jack Stringer, a Korean Era veteran, with Hans Schmid as the Junior Marine, an Iraqi and Afghanistan veteran.
Semper Fidelis, Latin for “Always Faithful” has been the Corps’ motto since 1883. It binds each Marine to their mission, to the Corps, to country and to each other. Once a Marine, always a Marine and Semper Fi is part of who they are.
General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps included the following message as they celebrated their birthday:
For 243 years, Marines have fought and won whenever and wherever the Nation calls. In the harshest conditions, over the most brutal terrain, and against the most formidable enemies, Marines defend the ideals of freedom with grit and tenacity. Though battlefields change and capabilities evolve, history proves that true victory comes from the individual Marine with steeled resolve, the drive to overcome any obstacle, and the warrior spirit to fight on against all odds. It takes that steadfast faithfulness Semper Fidelis to Corps, country, and each other that abounds throughout our storied legacy.
The Eagle, Globe and Anchor– the iconic emblem of the Marine Corps. The Eagle as the national bird of the United States – represents the Marines’ commitment to their country; the Globe represents the Marines’ global presence; the Anchor represents their rich naval history.
Photos by Maria Lamb