Happy 248th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps

Published 11:39 am Friday, November 10, 2023

The Marine Corps birthday is a day for all Marines — once a Marine, always a Marine — to celebrate their shared service, history and legacy.

The United States Marine Corps was first formed as the Continental Marines on Nov. 10, 1775, during the Revolutionary War.

The first Marines enlisted at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pa., which is considered the birthplace of the Corps.

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At the close of the Revolution, the Marine Corps and the Navy were disbanded. A naval Quasi-War with France prompted an act of Congress on July 11, 1798, to reestablish the Marine Corps. The military branch formed from this act continues to exist today.

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is one of the most anticipated events for Marines. At the ball, Marines are required to dress in the uniform that sets them apart from other branches: their classic Dress Blues.

Even civilians have dress code requirements for the ball. Men are required to wear tuxedos and women are required to wear floor-length evening gowns.

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball consists of two parts: the ceremony, where the cake is cut and speeches are given, and the second part, where Marines are allowed to eat, drink and socialize.

The most beloved part of the ceremony is the cake-cutting ceremony. This ceremony has endured through the years and has taken place on battlefields throughout the world (conditions allowing).

When the time comes for the cake-cutting ceremony to start everyone on the ceremony floor will come to attention as the oldest and youngest Marine in attendance approaches the cake. The senior cake escort hands a ceremonial Mameluke Sword to the senior Marine in attendance.

The Mameluke sword dates back to 1805 when a Marine lieutenant received a similar sword from an Ottoman noble following the Battle of Derna during the war with the Barbary States.

The guest of honor receives the first piece of cake.

Then, “The next piece is given to the oldest and youngest Marines present, symbolizing the experience and the youthful spirit that are hallmarks of our Corps,” according to the Marine Corps Drill Manual. “The passing of the cake from the oldest to the youngest marine symbolizes the passing of history and traditions to the next generation.”

Semper Fidelis and OORAH to all you Marines out there, and Happy Birthday to the “Tip of the Spear,” the United States Marine Corps.