The United States Marine Corps will recognize its official 239th birthday on November 10, while some battalions and commands located across the country around the world are celebrating the event early with special events, ceremonies and, of course, the traditional cake cuttings.
From the shores of Tripoli to the forests of Belleau Wood, the sands of Iwo Jima to the jungles of Da Nang and the mountains of Afghanistan, Marines have fought for their country since 1775. There are many traditions that bind those current and past members of the Corps, but none are more deep-seated than the annual Marines' birthday celebration.
In the nation's Capital, nearly 600 Marines from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall gathered at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington, VA, Nov. 1, for an early celebration. The traditional cake-cutting ceremony took place followed by the passing of the cake from the youngest Marine present to the oldest, symbolizing the passing of history and traditions to the next generation. The oldest Marine veteran present at the Washington event, Pvt. Joseph Lee Britt, received recognition for the second year in a row at the HQMC birthday ball. Britt, 98, enlisted in the USMC March 15, 1944.
Attending his first birthday ball, the youngest Marine present, Lance Cpl. Eric W. Acosta, 19, enlisted July 22, 2013. Assigned to Henderson Hall in April, Acosta currently serves as driver to the commanding officer, a position he has held for three months.
"It was an honor to be the youngest Marine present," said Acosta. "Not everyone can say they stood up there next to the oldest Marine present to serve as an important part of the tradition."
Further to the south, at Camp Lejeune, NC, Marines cut their cake Nov. 5, while wearing uniforms representing every conflict in which Corps members have served since the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia created the force during the American Revolutionary War. The oldest Camp Lejeune Marine was 54-year-old Colonel Brian Palmer, while the youngest was 18-year-old Private First Class Angelina Mansikka.
Guest of honor and Marine Corps Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies and Operations, Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey gave remarks during the Washington gala, noting the importance of recognizing Marines past and present.
"Entwined with the history of our nation is the story of the U.S. Marine Corps. A legacy born on iron will and discipline," said Bailey. "I want you to reflect, remember and rededicate yourself because that is what the birthday is about.
"It is remembering those Marines who have made the ultimate sacrifice, it is remembering your friends, the people sitting at your table, and the special bond that we have," he said.