History of the USMC
Every year on November 10th, the United States Marine Corp (USMC) celebrates their ‘birthday’, or the day on which they were originally established as a service branch of infantry troops in the U.S. military. On November 10th, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Marines were officially established in the U.S. by the historical Second Continental Congress. The establishment of the USMC came almost seven months after the American Revolutionary War began in April of 1775. The first Marines were very important in the Revolutionary War. They acted as the much-needed marine force that defended the ships of the American Colonies from Great Britain. The Marines have grown significantly in number since their original establishment. When the Continental Marines were first established, their branch consisted of about 130 officers and less than 2,000 Colonial Marines. As of 2017, the United States Marine Corp is made up of more than 200,000 active duty and reserve members.
Surprisingly, the Continental Marines were technically disbanded after the United States won the Revolutionary War in September of 1783. The lack of active battles at this time meant that the services of the Marines that were so valuable during the Revolutionary War were no longer needed after the war was over. However, the Marines were not disbanded for long. On July 11th, 1798, the United States Marine Corp was officially formed by Congress as the U.S. military prepared to enter battle again—this time with France instead of Great Britain.
Although the USMC itself was technically founded in July of 1798 rather than in November of 1775, the Marine Corps’ birthday is still celebrated on November 10th. The temporary disbanding of the Continental Marines and their subsequent renaming as they officially joined the U.S. military for good does not invalidate the brave efforts of the Marines in the Revolutionary War immediately following their original establishment in 1775.
Celebrating the USMC’s Birthday
Even though the first birthday of the USMC happened almost 250 years ago, veterans, active Marines, and their families and friends continue to celebrate this special day each year even two-plus centuries later. November 10th, 2018 marked the 242nd birthday of the USMC. The U.S. Marine Corps’ birthday is less about celebrating the institution of the Marine Corp itself and more about celebrating the Marines themselves. It is a day that is designated to honoring the sacrifices of active Marines, veteran Marines, and fallen Marines who have lost their lives while serving their country.
The official celebration of the USMC’s birthday is the annual United States Marine Corp Birthday Ball. This ball is a formal event that is dedicated to celebrating active and veteran Marines and is primarily attended by Marines and their families as well as other distinguished guests from around the world. The USMC Birthday Ball—which was first formally established in Philadelphia in 1925—is an event that is very much rooted in tradition. It includes a cocktail hour, ceremony, dinner, dancing, and a formal cake- cutting ceremony as well as multiple other traditional observances that are associated with the annual event. The official USMC Birthday Ball is customarily held in Washington, D.C. The 2018 Ball was hosted at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.
The USMC’s birthday is a much less well-known military-related holiday than Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. This is partly because it is specific to one branch of the military rather than dedicated to all active service members and veterans in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, its higher level of obscurity is also due to the fact that the USMC’s birthday is not recognized as a federal holiday, and is therefore not marked by a three- day weekend like Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are each year. Many American citizens who are aware of the holiday but are not directly involved with the Marine Corp are unsure of how to celebrate and honor Marines on November 10th.
Most active Marines and veterans of the Marine Corp will gladly accept a happy birthday wish on November 10th, even though it’s obviously not their own personal birthday. The USMC unites all Marines, and celebrating its birthday gives active and veteran Marines a chance to reach out to one other and offers civilians an opportunity to reflect on and feel gratitude for the centuries of sacrifices the members of the Marine Corp have made for their safety and for the safety of the United States as a whole. Letting any Marines in your life know that you’re thinking about them and that you appreciate everything they do for the country you share is the best way to celebrate the USMC and its brave members past and present as it turns one year older each November.