In five days our Corps will be 240 years old. Born in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 10 November 1775 makes us the second oldest and therefore, the second senior service in United States. Many have commented over the years that it seems appropriate the Corps was born in a bar—actually we consider it a compliment. Regardless of where we are, or what we are doing, we stop for a moment to celebrate with reverence our Corps’s birthday. It should not go unnoticed by the unfamiliar reader that unlike other organizations, we do not consider it our Corps’s anniversary, but a birthday—there is a difference. If at all possible there is always a “Birthday Ball,” filled with pomp and circumstance, usually a speech by the unit commanding officer, or from an invited guest, reading of our thirteenth Commandant General Lejeune’s message, and cutting of the birthday cake with the first piece going to the oldest Marine present and the second going to the youngest—in hopes that someday, he will receive the first piece.
This year I have been honored by an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Williamson County, Texas Detachment #1022 of the Marine Corps league birthday ball on 14 November. The Commandant of the League happens to be “Doc” John Weed, who was our platoon Corpsman in Vietnam in 1966–67. I believe this is the first time I have heard of a League commanded by a Navy Corpsman—a testimony to the respect and admiration we, as Marines, have for our Navy corpsmen—it is an elected position.
Nancy and I are both excited to be able to participate in one more birthday ball. If my memory serves me well, I believe my first birthday ball was our Corps’s 183rd—that, my friends, was a long time ago!