SHAKO: Tell it to the Marines — and Veterans

November 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Semper Fi

Whoops! Your 4GWAR editor almost missed wishing the United States Marine Corps a Happy Birthday. Today the Corps is 236 years young. The organization has been defending the Republic since before there was a Republic —  by about nine months.

As we noted last year, 4GWAR has a warm spot in its heart for the USMC because this blog was born on Nov. 12, 2009 just two days after the Corps’ birthday, so we share  the Greek astrological sign of Scorpio — if you’re into that.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos does the honors with an officer's sword during the cake cutting ceremony at the Pentagon marking the Corps' 236th birthday. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers)

The Corps was created by the Continental Congress on Nov. 10, 1775 and as the place names engraved in the base of the Iwo Jima Memorial statue attest, it has fought all around the globe from the 18th to the 21st Century (so far). Click on the photo below to enlarge it to see some of those historic place names.

In ceremonies around the world from New York and North Carolina to Japan, Afghanistan and Iraq, the oldest Marine present is given the first slice of cake and then passes it to the youngest Marine.

We also have a special interest in the Marines because for 100 years they have been fighting the kind of small wars — in Haiti, Nicaragua and elsewhere in the Caribbean Basin–  that the 4GWAR Blog focuses on today.

Marines past, present and future are honored at the annual wreath laying ceremony in Arlington, Va., Nov. 10. (Photo by Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne)

Veterans Day

Tomorrow, Nov. 11, 2011 is Veterans Day, a federal holiday in the United States. It was first proclaimed by then-President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 as Armistice Day, marking the end of the First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Back then they thought it was the “War to End all Wars.” Nov. 11 has since become a day honoring all veterans of all wars as well as vets of peacetime service.

We note an interesting piece of personal journalism that appeared today on the New York Times website. It was written by Kristina Shevory a freelance journalist who served eight years in the peacetime Army in the 1990s.   Your 4GWAR editor met Ms. Shevory at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in September where we were both participants in the Military Journalists Experience program put on by the University of Kansas journalism school.

Her piece is about why she has trouble calling herself a veteran despite eight years in the Army because she did not serve in Iraq or Afghanistan and never heard a shot fired in anger. It is a thoughtful, well-written piece — as are the many comments from vets of past and present as well as others who, like Ms. Shevory, served their country in peacetime. We commend it to our readers.

SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.



Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, SHAKO, Skills and Training, Traditions, Washington. Tags: , , , , , , .

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