They are called Leathernecks, Devil Dogs, Gyrenes, Jarheads, and more. The 235-year legacy forged in tradition and sacrifice inspires every warrior who has earned the right to be a United States Marine. November 10 is etched in the hearts and souls of this famous brotherhood, and The Heritage Foundation is honored to commemorate the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

Born in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia and solidified by a resolution of the Continental Congress in 1775, the traditions of this service run deep. Differing from the Army and Navy, there is no mention of the Marine Corps in the U.S. Constitution and no mandate for Congress to fund the service. America’s elite expeditionary amphibious assault force is supported by Congress not because it has to, but because it wants to.As a wise Marine—Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, USMC, Ret.—recently told me, “America has a great love affair with the U.S. Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps has fought for and earned their unique status by repeatedly demonstrating their tremendous capabilities and making enduring contributions to our nation’s security. Marines have prevailed against enemies of the United States as well as enemies of freedom throughout the world, and have continually answered the call to victory.

Few know how to celebrate a birthday and honor tradition and service like the U.S. Marine Corps. In the famous tradition of the Corps, there is a cake cutting ceremony done by Marines everywhere as part of their birthday celebration. In my first year at the Pentagon, it seemed like all 25,000 of us were a part of the celebration. As part of the ceremony, the first piece of cake is given to our guest of honor. As the youngest person in the office, I received the second piece of cake from the Marine on our team. In the ceremony, the oldest Marine passes it on to the youngest, signifying the passing of experience and knowledge from the old to the young.

Today, the Marine Corps has much to celebrate. For starters, their legacy continues in the recently named 35th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General James Amos. As the first career naval aviator to serve as Commandant, General Amos embodies the tradition of the Corps while bringing innovative thinking to the future of warfare.

The Marine Corps is more than a highly skilled professional fighting force; it is also a tradition, an experience, and a way of life that forges a lifetime bond—Once a Marine, always a Marine. As the granddaughter of a Marine and the cousin of a Marine currently deployed in Afghanistan, I am thankful for the selfless service of Marines today. And while my personal connections have given me a special bond with the Corps, every American should take a moment today and consider the sacrifices the U.S. Marines have made for all of us: over 41,000 Marines have died in the line of duty over the past 235 years.

“Any Clime, Any Place”,” and “first to fight,” are not merely Marine catch phrases; they exemplify the core of a Marine’s responsibility. Regardless of terrain and environment—water, mud, arctic, desert, or mountains—Marines complete their duty in the harshest and most dangerous conditions when called to serve. They have fought and died in every corner of the globe and throughout the seven seas, so that Americans can be free.
We honor all who’ve proudly worn the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. Happy Birthday Marines! Semper Fidelis.