On 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved,
That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant-Colonels, two Majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of Privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalion of Marines.
With this resolution, a proud tradition was born that endures to this day. The first Commandant of the Marine Corps, Captain Samuel Nicholas, led what was to become the most elite group of combatants in the country, though his initial force consisted of only 131 officers and roughly 2,000 enlisted personnel. Despite our humble beginnings, we have endured for two-hundred and thirty-eight years and now boast approximately 200,000 men and women serving in every corner of the globe.
Today, if you ask an Army veteran about their service they will respond “I was in the Army.” Similar statements can be heard from veteran sailors or airmen. A Marine, on the other hand, will inevitably reply proudly “I am a Marine.” The methodology behind this is simple: Marines are not born but made. Every man or woman who today wears the Eagle, Globe and Anchor came from the same humble beginnings. Each started their life in the Corps standing on a pair of yellow footprints outside the in-processing facility for one of the Marine Corps Recruit Depots. Each spent month after grueling month being broken down, re-educated, and rebuilt from the ground up into a Marine. The philosophy of “Once a Marine” can’t be said better than by General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps;
A Marine is a Marine. I set that policy two weeks ago – there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego or the hills of Quantico. There’s no such thing as a former Marine.
When I began writing this post, I never intended to let those Marines who came before me speak in my stead, but as I have laid down the preceding paragraphs I have realized that they have already said much more than I ever could and in much more elegant ways. As such, I am going to leave off with a few of my favorites and my best to all of my brothers and sisters-in-arms. Happy birthday to all who have worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and Semper Fidelis.
The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945
Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.
President Ronald Reagan, 1985
The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of the world.
Admiral William Halsey, US Navy
The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.
General John 'Black Jack' Pershing, US Army