Today marks the 236th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. oldest military service: The U.S. Marine Corps. Older than the United States itself, the Marines are the quintessential incarnation of the best of the American spirit. For more than 200 years, the USMC has defined the standards of courage, spirit, and military prowess. The Heritage Foundation is honored to commemorate the birthday of this great brotherhood.

President Ronald Reagan said (1985): “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.” With a proud tradition of excellence in combat, rituals, and code of honor, the Marines impose high standards on anyone who would wish to join the service. And once you are in, there is no turning back: Once a Marine, always a Marine. To date, more than 41,000 Marines have died so that Americans can live in peace and prosperity.

“As Marines we will not stand down until the mission is complete and our nation is once again secure,” says Sergeant Major Micheal P. Barrett. At a time when the country is engaged in two wars, the Marines continue to serve above and beyond the call of duty with an “uncommon valor,” making essential contributions to winning the battle and the hearts and minds of America’s allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. For their heroic and selfless service, the USMC has earned the gratitude of their fellow Americans. Thank you, USMC.

Semper Fidelis!