After my Marine Corps Ball post last week I received quite a few emails with more questions on the Marine Corps ball. One of the most frequently asked questions, aside from what to wear, is what the Ball is all about. Why do they have it? What is it about? Why are those guys standing up and why do I have to stand up? So, before that wonderful date in November, please read this and hopefully, it will help answer a few of those questions.
Why Celebrate? History and Traditions and Semper Fi's
The Marine Corps Ball is a long held tradition with a single purpose - to celebrate the birth of our beloved Corps way back on November 10, 1775 in a bar known as Tun Tavern. And while the official birthday of the Corps was not recognized until 1921 (before then, it was celebrated without honor in July), the emergence of a Marine Corps Birthday Ball didn't start until 1925 at the insistence of Major Edwin McClellan and wasn't formalized for many years to come.
It's fairly obvious to the casual observer that the Birthday Ball is an evening filled with wonderful uniforms, beautiful dresses and the pomp and circumstance of an extremely formal event (and, in most cases, lots of fun, camaraderie and liquor). But for Marines, the Ball is only the icing on the cake.
For Marines, the Birthday is a time to reflect on those that have worn the uniform, wear the uniform and will someday be lucky enough to pin on an EGA. We remember those Marine's that paved the path for us and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our beloved Country and Corps. This love and reverence for our history is often seen during the Ball as Marine's dress up in period uniforms and regale stories from the battles we fought long ago. We listen to a speech - the same speech, actually an Order, recited every year. This order, written by Commandant John LeJeune (Marine Corps Order Number 47), proclaims our heritage and proud history. If you're at the ball, you will hear this Order read in its entirety.
It's also a time for us to look towards the future. Each year, the Commandant releases his Birthday message. It is an opportunity for him to reflect on the past year and the accomplishment of his troops. Its also an opportunity for him to present his ideas and plans for the future, and to thank his Marines for a job well done.
Marines always celebrate the date of November 10th. You could be in Boot Camp or in the middle of a war zone as many of our Marines our today. Regardless, this day does not pass without recognition of our longstanding traditions and heritage.
I think an Air Force Sgt. Major summed it up best "Why do Marines feel so strongly about traditions, especially this tradition? Marines are a "different breed!" Their perspective of life is unique and filled with unbridled pride and commitment to excellence. Marines believe that there is no public calling higher than that of Marine.
They also believe that tasks are given to be accomplished and that anything short of mission accomplishment is unacceptable. And lastly, Marines believe in one another. They are a "band of brothers" who realize "esprit de corps" is not just a slogan; it's a way of life. Marines take care of one another and believe emphatically "once a Marine, always a Marine."