Just in time for the national observance of Veterans Day, the United States Marine Corps is celebrating its 244th birthday. The USMC was established on November 10, 1775, during the America’s Revolutionary War against the British. The Continental Navy needed reinforcements in order to successfully repel enemy attacks by sea, so the Second Continental Congress commissioned the creation of the Continental Marines. Captain Samuel Nicholas served as head of recruitment, setting up headquarters at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern. These early Marines battled the British until 1783 when the Continental Marines disbanded. However, the did not stay dispersed for long; in 1798 the Marines were reestablished and continue to protect our nation as a single, powerful unit to this day.

Since their initial experiences in combat in the American Revolution, the United States Marine Corps has woven a very colorful history, most of which is chronicled in the Marine’s Hymn. The line referencing the “Halls of Montezuma” pays homage to the Marines’ involvement in the Mexican-American War as the USMC proved instrumental in the critical battle at Chapultepec in 1847. This battle also inspired the traditional red stripe on the Marine Corps’ uniform pants. This red stripe, called a “blood stripe,” honors the Marines who sacrificed their lives in this battle. The following line, “To the shores of Tripoli,” calls the Battle of Derne during the First Barbary War to memory. When pirates roving the Mediterranean triggered the wrath of the American government, the Marines were sent to Tripoli to engage the enemy in the nation’s first land battle outside the North American continent.

In more recent history, the United States Marine Corps has continued to defend our country from any threat to national peace and security. Most notably, the USMC played a key part in the Pacific theater during World War II. Many history buffs find it interesting to note that Marines were sparsely deployed in Europe during the Second World War. This is largely attributed to the rivalry between the Marine Corps and the Army. For example, during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the Marines aboard U.S.S. Texas were ordered to remain on the ship instead of aiding the Army in combat. Experts muse that this odd decision was likely fueled by the Army-Marine Corps rivalry as commanding Army generals craved the entirety of the glory for the victory at Normandy.

Today, the Marine Corps still fills a vital role in the defense and extension of American ideals and values. With bases spread across the globe, modern Marines typically lead the charge against arising enemies. Several contemporary celebrities are former Marines, including television personality Drew Carey and Glen Bell, the founder of Taco Bell. To celebrate the achievements and successes of the United States Marine Corps, their Birthday Ball is held each year in Washington, D.C. The pinnacle event of the ball is the cutting of the USMC’s birthday cake. The first three slices are given to the oldest Marine in attendance, thee youngest Marine in attendance, and the guest of honor. As the Marines observe another year of existence and prosperity, take the time to thank a Marine for their service. After all, 244 years is a long time to keep watch over a country!

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