Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Marines

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nichols to raise two battalions of Continental Marines. The first recruiting station for what would become the United States Marine Corps was Tun Tavern, a bar in Philadelphia where you can still find cold beer today.

Two hundred thirty years later, Marines serve all over the world and celebrate our birthday and our heritage as "the few, the proud." We just had our cake cutting ceremony here at the Manpower Plans and Policy Division, which I realized was really a worship service.

The word "worship" comes from the Old English weothscipe, the shape of worth. So when we worship, we honor that which has worth - that which is worthy - that which we value. A Marine Corps birthday celebration honors not only our past and history, but the "living tradition" of our Corps.

The liturgy of the cake cutting ceremony centers, as might be expected, on the cutting of a birthday cake. It is much more, however, as the first piece of cake is presented to the oldest Marine present, who in turn presents the second piece to the youngest. This symbolizes the continuity of our Corps and the "passing of the torch" from generation to generation.

The "holy scripture" of this service is the reading of Major General John A. Lejeune's birthday message, written on November 1, 1921, and read each year on this occasion. The "sermon" is the message from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee.
The service concludes with the benedictory playing of the Marines' Hymn, and we all get a piece of cake and some punch, in a symbolic "communion of the Corps."

I've belonged to this Church of the Holy Corps for over 17 years. During the last four years, as I've questioned my journey in life, my career choice, and where I'm going, I've often felt like a priest who's lost the faith. On a day like today, however, I feel the same pride I felt when I became a Marine, and tears well up unbidden when I hear the Marines' Hymn. As I near the end of this career, I wonder if I'll always have this reaction on November 10th.

I guess I probably will - as they say, once a Marine, always a Marine.

Semper Fidelis, and Happy Birthday.

1 comment:

David Pyle said...

Greg, that was beautiful.

And it is not as if you are a Preist who has lost his faith, but rather one dedicated to having the Church catch up to him.


Yours in Faith... From your sister congregation, the Fellowship of the Airborne...