I joined the military right out of high school, from a small town, with a family steeped in service to our great nation. I grew up hearing stories about the Pacific from my grandfather, Korea from uncles, and ‘Nam from my dad. All were Army, Air Force, and Navy. I decided to take the path less travelled. I enlisted in the Marine Corps for the adventure, to fight, for college money, and just to be different. To this day it is still the best decision I ever made.
My fellow Marines and I anxiously await November 10th every year, our favorite time of year, our beloved Marine Corps birthday. While many branches have various formals, mess nights, etc., the Marine Corps birthday is something much different. It’s something that all Marines take very seriously.
Why does this day hold so much significance to myself and all Marines? The answer is not complex – esprit de corps! Like all Marines, I believe we are the best. We do more with less; always have and always will. Ask any Marine and they’ll fight you over it. The Corps is everything that is great about America, a true underdog.
It makes sense that the Marines would be born in a bar, Tun Tavern in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on November 10th, 1775. The humor and irony of the loudest, proudest, and toughest fighting force’s history is not lost on me. As a Marine, I know this history like I know my own. Marines can tell you about our greatest leaders, battles, the significance of the items on our dress uniforms. It’s ingrained in us early and throughout our training. We know above all else that we belong to something truly special and unique, something so much larger and greater than ourselves.
That’s why the Marine Corps birthday means so much to us. Our history is a long, hard-fought, bloody one filled with tradition, which is why every Marine takes great pride in celebrating and wishing other Marines a happy birthday.
I’ll spend this November 10th reflecting on my time in the Marine Corps. The good times and bad, the sleepless nights, the scary NCOs, being a boot with no clue and growing into an NCO myself. I’ll remember some of the worst experiences in my life, spent with the best of men. Some who are no longer with us. But mostly I will celebrate the fact I was part of something so much larger than myself, celebrate the Marines that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and celebrate the new breed of Marines and recruits lining up in those yellow footprints hoping to earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
For those of you that simply do not understand our birthday, General William Thornson of the U.S. Army said it best, “There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.” To all Marines, young and old, I wish you a happy 242nd birthday. Thank you for allowing me to be part of the history, tradition, and family.