Marine Corps Birthday Ball Traditions

Marine Corps Birthday Ball Traditions

November 10 is the official birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Happy Birthday!
America’s expeditionary force in readiness, the United States Marine Corps, is celebrating its official birthday on November 10th. On that day in the year 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines to serve in the American Revolution. The Continental Marines were actually disbanded after the end of the war and then re-stablished by President John Adams in 1798.

The role of the United States Marine Corps, according to its official website, is to be the “nation’s crisis response force and force in readiness” They remain “forward deployed, ready to fight and win tonight.”
The Marines didn’t start celebrating its birthday as an organization until 1921, and in 1925 the first formal Marine Birthday Ball was held in Philadelphia. While Marine Birthday Balls were held from that time until the 1950s, there was no standardized format for celebrating the military branch’s birthday. In 1952, Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. standardized the celebration procedures that eventually were included in the official Marine Corps Drill Manual.
Marine Corps Birthday Traditions and Customs
The Marine Corps birthday is a revered tradition filled with pride, respect and pageantry. No matter where in the world a Marine Corps birthday celebration is taking place, the following traditions are carried out: 

  • Color Guard presents the colors
  • National Anthem is played
  • Celebrate with a banquet or ball complete with dancing and food
  • The Commandant of the Corps recites a “Birthday Message”
  • A cake is escorted out followed by a cake cutting ceremony which symbolizes the passing of experience and knowledge from the older to the young. A sword is used to cut the cake and the first three pieces of the cake are given out:
    • The first piece is presented to the guest of honor
    • The second piece is given to the oldest living Marine present
    • The third piece is passed to the youngest Marine present

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps. Semper Fidelis.

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