And a big THANK YOU to all who have served!
This Sunday Marines in remote parts of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, aboard ships and elsewhere in the world will pause to celebrate the 238th birthday of the corps. The tradition has the youngest and oldest Marine cut a cake, preferably with a mameluke sword. But a k-bar knife will do as well.
The Marines take their birthdays - and other traditions - seriously. From their earliest days in boot camp, young Marines are told about Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima and the Chosin Reservoir. Over the course of their career they learn to revere Chesty Puller, Dan Daly and others in the pantheon of Marine legends.
Other services are defined by their missions and their equipment. The Marines too have a unique mission - it’s an expeditionary force able to respond quickly. But what really sets it apart is something that is harder to describe but no less potent. It’s sometimes described as an esprit de corps, but ultimately it’s hard to define.
It’s an ancient code that holds that discipline, will and spirit can overcome numerical and technical advantages of an enemy. It is what got Marines to stand up on the beach at Iwo Jima and assault heavy Japanese fortifications.
Anachronistic? Perhaps, but the Marine Corps believes it is this spirit as much as anything else that gives it an edge over its enemies.