The Marines turn 244 years old on November 10. Did you know that Marine Corps birthdays are celebrated around the world (since Marines guard our embassies)?
From the Marine Corps Community Service
Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952, Commandant Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. Current Marine Corps policy mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present and passed to the youngest Marine representing the passing of tradition from generation to generation. Among the many such mandates is the reading of the Commandant’s birthday message to the Corps. Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from modest origins to the dignified function it is today. On 10 November, regardless of where Marines are stationed or deployed, you will always hear “Happy Birthday Marine.”
Marines have been called many things besides Marines. Here are some of the more historical and socially acceptable:
Leatherneck: Goes back to the leather stock or neckpiece, which was part of the Marine uniform from 1775 to 1875. The leather bands around their throats were intended to ensure that Marines kept their heads erect.
Devil Dogs: In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly untakeable terrain, the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the Germans calling Marines “teufelhunden,” referring to the fierce fighting dogs of legendary origin.
Gyrene: The term “gyrene” is a jocular reference to Marines which was first used in England as early as 1894. It was used in the United States around the time of World War I. Its exact origin is unknown, but it did appear to have a derogatory meaning in its early usage. It has been suggested that the term may embody a reference to pollywog, a naval slang term for a person who has not yet “crossed” [the equator], hence, a landlubber.
Jarhead: A slang term used by sailors as early as World War II to refer to members of the Marine Corps, drawing the term from the resemblance of the Marine dress blues uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.
Whatever you call them, you want them on your side in a fight. Happy Birthday, Marines.