SHAKO: Happy (238th) Birthday U.S. Marine Corps

November 9, 2013 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

Marines Take the Cake

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Schlueter

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie Schlueter

Marines with the Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters Battalion in New Orleans escort the centerpiece of their traditional cake cutting ceremony Friday (November 8), in advance of Sunday’s 238th Marine Corps birthday celebration.

The Marine Corps was created by the Second Continental Congress on Nov. 10, 1775 and since 1921, Marines around the world have celebrated the Corps’ founding under Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, issued by then-Commandant Major Gen. John LeJeune (pronounced Leh-Zhern). LeJeune’s order summarized the history, tradition and mission of the Marine Corps and directed that the order be read to every command on every subsequent Nov. 10, the Marine Corps Birthday.

Marine Corps commandant  Gen. James F. Amos cuts the ceremonial cake at the Pentagon in 2010. (Photo by Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea)

Marine Corps commandant Gen. James F. Amos cuts the ceremonial cake at the Pentagon in 2010. (Photo by Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea)

Since 1952, the Marines have marked the occasion with a birthday celebration and a cake cutting ceremony, where a senior Marine Corps officer slices the cake — usually with the traditional Mameluke officer’s sword, commemorating the U.S. Marines Corps’ first overseas action near the shores of Tripoli i  1805. The first slice of cake is handed to the oldest enlisted Marine present. That senior Leatherneck then hands the slice to the youngest Marine present. In this photo — if you click to enlarge it — you can see the first piece has been sampled and next to it is the ceremonial sabre used to slice it.

Outside Washington, D.C., Marines marked the day Friday (November 8) with a physical fitness run and a ceremony (see photo below) beside the iconic Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Preston McDonald

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Preston McDonald

At a wreath-laying ceremony at the massive Iwo Jima statue Saturday (November 9) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — himself an Army combat veteran of Vietnam — gave a note worthy shout-out to the Marines who for nearly all of their history have been fending off attempts to disband them — usually for economic reasons in peacetime.

“For 238 years, the Marines have made a vital difference,” said Hagel. “And in today’s volatile, complicated, and unpredictable world, the Marines are as relevant and essential as ever before.  For there is no force that can match their agility, flexibility, and expeditionary capabilities” Hagel added. He said he looked forward to working closely with senior Corps leaders “and all of our Marines to ensure that they are strong and ready as we navigate a strategic transition that will return the Marines to their amphibious roots.”



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, Naval Warfare, Photos, SHAKO, Skills and Training, Traditions, Washington. Tags: , , , .

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November 2013


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