Since that date, Marines have been in uninterrupted service to our nation and have distinguished themselves "in every clime and place," in far off lands and on distant, remote beaches "from the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli," in France during World War I at Belleau Wood, on Iwo Jima and throughout the Pacific Islands during World War II, at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir during the Korea War, at Khe Sanh and Hue City during the Vietnam War, throughout Iraq in such outposts as Fallujah and the Anbar Province, and in bloody combat in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan--just a few of many places, a scant mention of the many battlefields where United States Marines have been called to duty.
Marines have heroically, without hesitation, answered our country's call, never faltering in their dedication nor swerving in their allegiance. "Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful) is every Marine's motto, and "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" their creed.
The Marines' Hymn proclaims "... if the Army or the Navy ever look on heaven's scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines."
To formalize the Marine Corps's founding, on November 1, 1921, Major General John A. Lejuene, Commandant of the Marine Corps at that time, issued MARINE CORPS ORDERS No. 47 (Series 1921), part of which read as follows:
In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue. This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age.In World War II, on one particular island in the Pacific Ocean, Iwo Jima, the iconic 1945 photograph of six Marines raising a United States flag atop Mount Suribachi during the battle was taken by Associated Press combat photographer Joe Rosenthal. That photo later became the most recognized symbol of the United States in the world, and is the basis for the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial) a national monument in Arlington, Virginia. Admiral Chester Nimitz reflected on the incredible sacrifice of the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima by saying, (Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima) "Uncommon valor was a common virtue," words inscribed in the granite at the base.
As do all Marines--active duty, retired, or former, where ever they may find themselves today, November 10th--I pay silent tribute to those who went before me--and after--having given so much in service to their Corps and country. Now decades older, I clearly remember the faces of those with whom I served--then steadfast young men and women, unselfish in their devotion, unwavering in their loyalty, never questioning their solemn duty to defend our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Always displaying a Gung Ho attitude, Marines have stood ready to fight our country's battles "on the land, in the air, or at sea" for two hundred forty-one years wherever and whenever called upon to do so.
And so, on this special day, I will hoist a toast to all Marines, past and present, who have risked their lives for their country. I will pay special tribute to those Marines who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their memory bolsters my faith in our nation's youth, our steadfast values, and our blessed United States of America.
Happy 241st Birthday, Marines!
Major Dennis Copson is a retired United States Marine and is a resident of Oceanside, California. He is a freelance writer and editor.