10 November 1775, Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was more than a place for men to drink away their troubles and woes. On this day in History, it also became the birthday for one of the most formidable forces in the world. The United States Marine Corps found a home in America under the guidance of the first Captain of the Marine Corps, Samuel Nicholas. Although commissioned for the Continental Naval service, he is considered by many to be the very first Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Tun Tavern may not have been the official birthplace of the Marine Corps if there had been a more popular tavern. Recruiting to fight the British was a determined cause and where better than a place that held many of the strong farmers of that region of Pennsylvania? The base for recruitment was created right in the tavern. Capt. Nicholas enlisted the tavern's proprietor, Robert Mullan, to be his chief recruiter for the Marines. With the addition of Mullan, the Marine Corps was born, on the 10th of November.
Tun Tavern was apparently a pretty popular recruiting location because in 1756, Benjamin Franklin also used the establishment to recruit for the Pennsylvania Militia to fight against uprisings by the Native Americans.
Getting back to the Marines, the story continues. The Marine Corps is considered the "first to fight". The purpose of this phrase is to indicate that the United States Marine Corps is the only one of the armed services that is sent to attack without Congressional approval. It takes a single act of the President of the United States to send in the Marines. This is where the term first to fight came from. Congress has been known to drag their feet on important matters, and the President had to have an organization that was ready to go at the drop of a hat. Because of this, the Marines have been conditioned to drop everything, pack their back, and get to their deployment location, no questions asked, within 24 hours notice.
Their unique ability to convert from air, to sea, to land has given them the edge, and also their "elite" status among the armed services. Where other people join the service and get out, Marines are *always* Marines. They may enlist for a particular number of years, but even if they no longer wear the uniform, they are still Marines.
The Marine Corps' primary motto, Semper Fidelis (always faithful), indicates that the Marines love what they've done, they love what they do, and they never EVER leave a man behind. Never would there be a mutiny caused by a Marine. Not in the past, not in the future. One has never even been considered within the ranks of the United States Marine Corps. There have been other mottos for the Marine Corps through History, but this is the most prevalent. Two other worth noting are "By Sea and by Land" and "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli" to indicate their land and sea traditions as well as an unlimited presence in the world.
Many battles have taken the lives of many Marines. Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of all time, took the lives of thousands of Marines in a few short weeks. The deaths were caused by the island's rough terrain, the facts that the Japanese soldiers were prepared for the attack, and the fact that they continued forward, pressing and pushing, never giving up. They stood beside their brothers in arms and watched them shot down beside them. Still, they pressed onward.
Battles have been fought against the enemy, but they also fight some true battles at home. Christmas is a time for joy and wonder in the faces of children. This does not always happen in the lives of poor little boys and girls. The Marines have taken a vow to help these children to have happy holidays. The Marines adopted the brainchild of Major Bill Hendricks, and in 1948, the National Toys for Tots campaign began. The first year, 1947, Major Hendricks and the Marine Corps Reserves collected and distributed 5000 toys for needy children in Los Angeles. Because of the success of this endeavor, the Marine Corps Reserves believed this to be a worth-while cause that would help so many children to have a smile on their face Christmas morning. Some regions also bring bags of holiday foods to those households so that they would have the merriest Christmas that they could give them.
The Marine Corps colors, scarlet and gold, signify several different beliefs from the Marine Corps. Much the same as the red stripes on the American flag signifying those who died so the flag could be flown, primarily scarlet is to honor those who died in battle before as members of the Marines. The red stripe on the trousers of the dress blue uniform is for the same reason. Gold is the color of honor and loyalty. Those who join the Marines are to uphold their duty to their country as well as to the Marine Corps, keeping themselves loyal and full of honor in all situations. The colors are to remind them.
The Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated across the world on 10 November. The pride of the Marine Corps is not for the individual, but for the whole, from the first Commandant to the very last member to walk out of basic training. Each and every Marine deserves the benefit of honor, and the Marine Corps Birthday celebration is the way they tell all Marines how important they are. The celebration always involves a cake, which is escorted in by the very youngest and the oldest member of the unit. This is part of the celebration of the Marines from its inception. Major General Lejeune issued an order summarizing the History, mission, and traditions of the Marine Corps and directed that the order be read every 10 November. In 1923, the Marine Corps solemn birthday celebration became a ball. The Marines shared their traditions and their joy with their lived ones. Tradition is what the Marine Corps and the members of this elite group fight for every day. From today into the future, to contradict a Marine is to ask for a quick response, and a sharp tongue. A Marine is someone you would always want to be on your side, but would never ever want them to be your enemy. They are smart, swift, and always first to fight, even though they are loyal beyond reproach.