Paul and Nicole at the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Richmond, Virginia.
The History of the Ball
The Marines have marked the anniversary of the "chartering" of the Marines since the inception of the Corps in 1775, but the formal tradition of marking the event with a ball has only been around since the early n1920s, when Major Edwin McClellan, who was in charge the Corps' historical department, sent a memorandum to Commandant John A. Lejeune, suggesting the Marines’ original birth date of November 10 be declared a Marine Corps holiday. Lejeune responded with the following memorandum:
MARINE CORPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921
759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.
1.On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.
2.The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and is the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
3.In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
4.This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.
JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General Commandant
As you might guess, the Marines, a group of men given to tradition and ceremony, were on board about the formal reading of this tribute from the get-go -- and the troops were even more enthusiastic about organizing an annual party to accompany the reading. It was in 1925, then, that the first formal ball was held, and on different bases throughout the world the men organized celebrations that ranged from the almos- always-present formal ball to mock battles, musical performances, pageants, and sports contests.
In 1952 Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.decided that there should be a standardized celebration throughout the Marines and outlined the now essential cake cutting ceremony. Traditionally, the first slice of cake at any Marine Corps Birthday Ball is given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn hands it off to the youngest Marine, symbolizing the old and experienced Marines passing their knowledge to the new generation of Marines. A reading of Marine Corps Order 47 (above) is read every year, as well as a message from the current Commandant, and, whenever possible, a banquet with dancing is included in the celebration. To recognize the historical context of the day, a pageant of current and historical Marine Corps uniforms is often held, as well. The tradition of the celebration of the birth of the Marines is an important part of the corps; Marines throughout the world mark the day, regardless of where they may, even in deprived environments or combat.
It's a big deal!
Back at Our Homefront...
On November 10th of this year (a little over a week ago), our Marine son, Paul, and his wife, Nicole, were delighted to attend the Marine Ball in Richmond, (they're currently finishing out the first segment of Paul's Officer's Training in Quantico). That same Saturday, we were in Denver and I had met up with son #3, Jon, to catch a movie and take him for some "essentials" shopping (read: mandatory-annual-mom-says-you-probably-need-socks-and-underwear shopping excursion).
So, Jon and I were heading into W-mart, and I was texting back and forth with Nicole, who was at the Ball in Virginia -- when entering the store just ahead of us we spied a dashing young Marine -- a tall, handsome redhead -- in his dress blues and his pretty little date in a formal gown. You know of course I had to run over and say hello to him, and, of course, as all Marines are, he was sweet and respectful, and happy to talk to the mother of another Marine, no matter what my son thought. Jon, you see, is a reserved melancholic and not a nosy sanguine like his mother, and he was more inclined to hide in the socks than stay and chat with a stranger... but I grabbed his elbow and dragged him with me. 'Cause I'm just that kind of pushy mother. ;)
It turns out the Marine and his date were on their way to a nearby hotel to celebrate the Marines' birthday at the Denver equivalent of Paul and Nicole's event and he really was excited to hear about my son doing the same thing back on the east coast. He also told me he was shipping out to Afghanistan in two weeks. And I told him I would keep him in my prayers. The only thing is, I forgot to ask him his name. So, in heaven, they're hearing about him as "that tall, handsome, redheaded Marine." (Would you mind saying a prayer for him, too?)
Anyway --- Before I go. Here's something else that makes my Monday...
Our beautiful Nicole, and our grandson, Gavin...
who is due on December 15th.
One month from today!!
(I've already got my ticket to Virginia, btw.)
For more Makes My Monday posts, run over to Cheryl's!