• Jeff Rich

The Marine Corps Birthday is Everything

It is one of the selling points in recruiting, right up there with the uniforms. The Marine Corps Birthday is everything you want a special day to be. From Private to Sergeant Major, from 2nd Lieutenant to 4-star General, it's your day and a day for all of your brothers and sisters in arms. We have a ball.

Rarely does anyone question whether or not Marines, even the females, have balls. However, right around the 10th of November each year, the Corps itself hosts a Marine Corps Ball. My recruiter sold it as a "prom with alcohol", and to describe it any other way would be a disservice to a description of the event. It's worth noting that I never actually went to any proms, so I'm guessing.

The Corps, in general, is a nice fraternity. With the rifle range, the gas chamber, and anything related to life on the battalion in the rear view mirror, you know you're in good company when someone utters Semper Fi or you see them rocking the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. In real-time, we still have each other's backs, but how fraternal you are really comes down to a comparison of stripes or shiny shit on the collar.

That's not to say a Master Sergeant and a Lance Corporal, or even a Sergeant and a Lieutenant cannot get along well, it's just that fraternization is strongly discouraged with too much discrepancy in the ranks. For at least one day out of the year, that all goes by the wayside.

"Happy Birthday Marine!"

Whether you hear it from superior, a subordinate, or a civilian, it's always meaningful to hear the sentiment thrown in your direction. The fact is, not everyone is a recruiting poster Marine, and since we essentially wear our service records on our chest in the notable Dress Blue Alphas and Bravos, you can get a feeling for who's who. On the Marine Corps Birthday, it doesn't really matter, though the ones with the medals tend to stand out.

For me, it's 245 years of history, of valor, of honor, of pride blazing trails for today's and tomorrow's jarheads. The United States Marine Corps remains the only branch of our Armed Forces founded in a bar, Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, and many of us, myself included, pay homage by spending lots of time in bars during our active years and long after we return to the civilian ranks.

A Marine knows that they're held in a higher regard, generally, than the soldiers, sailors, and air men with whom they share the Veterans Day holiday, but it's really just smack talk to verbalize it. If you want the truth, it's that no one that serves/served in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, or Air Force should ever be put down for enlisting in a different branch, but we devil dogs will have our fun, nonetheless.

It is a privilege to call myself a Marine--then, now, and forever, going forward. The Marine Corps ball and the stunning dress blue uniforms are big selling points for recruiting, but there's one thing that stands out above all else, and I do take the time to remember this one thing on our birthday.

I am a Marine. Semper Fi.