Honoring Tradition: Formal Recitation of the Marine Corps Birthday

Alex Liddell of the United States Marine Corps delivers a formal recitation of the Marine Corps Birthday Message, originally authored by the 13th Commandant, John A. Lejeune. This reading is a storied tradition, capturing the spirit and history of the Marine Corps, serving to inspire and uphold the Corps’ rich legacy.

The 248TH USMC BIRTHDAY MESSAGE (Written and Audio)

“On November 1st, 1921, John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, directed that a reminder of the honorable service of the Corps be published by every command, to all Marines throughout the globe, on the birthday of the Corps. Since that day, Marines have continued to distinguish themselves on many battlefields and foreign shores, in war and peace. On this birthday of the Corps, therefore, in compliance with the will of the 13th Commandant, Article 38, United States Marine Corps Manual, Edition of 1921, is republished as follows: 

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“‘(I) On November 10,1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the 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 in the long eras of tranquillity at home generation after generation of marines have growrl 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 to-day have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we 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.’


For 248 years, Marines have earned a reputation as the most disciplined and lethal warfighters in the world. This legacy of honor, courage, and commitment passed on to us was paid for in sweat, blood, and sacrifice. From Belleau Wood to Inchon and Tarawa to Sangin, Marines have stepped forward to defend our Constitution when others either could not or would not. Our history is filled with heroes like Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, Private First Class Hector Cafferata Jr., Sergeant Major Dan Daly, and thousands of others who performed acts of bravery which went unseen in the heat of battle. We stand on the shoulders of these Marines, and we owe it to them to earn our title “Marine” each and every day.

Marines have given, and have been willing to give, their lives for Country and Corps in every fight our Nation has entered. Our actions turned back the tide of tyranny in Europe during the Great War, defeated fascism in Asia during World War II, fought for democracy in Korea and Vietnam, and offered the hope of self-determination in the Middle East. We go to war whenever our Nation calls, and in the interwar periods we train, we prepare, and we innovate. We have chosen a life of service and sacrifice — an honorable life that has meaning. We sacrifice so our fellow citizens don’t have to, and we seek nothing in return but a chance to be first to fight. Most will never understand why we choose to attack when others do not, why we revel in being covered in mud, why we snap to attention when “The Marines’ Hymn” is played, or why we say, “Ooh Rah.” We understand it, and this message is for us, for the Marines.

As Marines, we live on a war footing because someone must. This means that we ruthlessly adhere to our standards of excellence — Marine standards — as we know this will best prepare us for the wars of the future. Our high standards are a prerequisite of professional warfighting, and how we keep our honor clean in the cauldron of combat. They prepare us for the most difficult mission there is: fighting from and returning to the sea. Most importantly they shape our unique Marine culture which is respected at home and across the globe.

Sergeant Major Ruiz and I are proud of all that you have done this past year to protect and enhance our reputation as America’s best warriors. We hope you know that we will be with you every step of the way as we prepare for the fights ahead. We ask that every Marine – active, reserve, and veteran – honor the legacy of those who went before us by continuing to uphold our high standards.

Protect your fellow Marines and our shared legacy. Happy Birthday Marines!

Eric M. Smith, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps


Cover Photo: 4 NOV 2011 | Lance Cpl. Erik S. Brooks Jr.Marine Corps Installations Pacific

248th Article and Video: Commandant of the Marine Corps

The 13th Commandant, Article 38, United States Marine Corps Manual, Edition of 1921: USMC Archives

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