The strength of tradition: the United States Marine Corps

  • Published
  • By CDR Brian Osborn
  • 8th Flying Training Squadron
Hold the traditions which ye have been taught.
II Thessalonians
Marine Corps Order 5060.12D directs that on Nov. 10, the graves of deceased commandants of the Marine Corps be visited. At a minimum, a field grade officer, an NCO and a bugler, attired in dress blue uniform, visit each commandant's grave. The NCO carries a floral wreath with a scarlet and gold ribbon. Taking up their positions at the grave, the officer removes his cap and bows his head for one minute's silence. He then replaces his cap, takes the wreath from the NCO and places it on the grave. The officer and the NCO then stand side-by-side and render the hand salute while the bugler plays "Taps." The ceremonial party then drops the salute and departs.
Traditions, ceremonies and customs have had a profound influence upon human behavior. The effect is particularly pronounced in the military which, because of the imposed discipline, lends itself to passing on the more heroic traditions. As these traditions pass from generation to generation with a full appreciation of the personal sacrifice involved, they engender an esprit de corps of incalculable value.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Marine Corps. A pride in the corps that stems from traditions of past glory has given to the Marine Corps its well-justified reputation as an elite force.
I received a copy of a speech a couple of days ago given by Col James Lowe, Marine Corps Base, Quantico commander. He was speaking to a group of Marine second lieutenants at a formal dinner. As you read the following excerpt, note how he uses the term "Marine." It steeps with tradition and holding true to the values established by those that went before.
"... I like being a Marine and I like being around Marines ... I like the fact that you always know where you stand with a Marine! With Marines, there is no middle ground or gray area. There are only missions, objectives and facts. I like the fact that if you are a self-declared enemy of America, that running into a Marine outfit in combat is your worst nightmare ... and that your health record is about to get a lot thicker or be closed out entirely!
"I like the fact that Marines are steadfast and consistent in everything they do ... regardless if you agree with them or not; that Marines hold the term "politically correct" with nothing but pure disdain; that Marines stand tall and rigid in their actions, thoughts and deeds when others bend with the direction of the wind and are as confused as a dog looking at a ceiling fan!
"I like the fact that each and every Marine considers the honor and legacy of the corps as his personal and sacred trust to protect and defend. I like the fact that most civilians don't have a clue what makes us tick ... and that's not a bad thing. Because if they did, it would scare the hell out of them!
"I like the fact that others say they want to be like us, but don't have what it takes in the "pain-gain-pride" department to make it happen. I like the fact that the Marines came into being in a tavern and that Marines still gather in pubs, bars and slop chutes to share sea stories and hot scoop. I like the fact that Marines do not consider it a coincidence that there are 24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case, because Marines know there is a reason for everything that happens!
"I like our motto. Semper Fidelis. And the fact that we don't shed it when the going gets tough, the battlefield gets deadly or when we hang up our uniform for the last time. I like the fact that Marines take care of each other. In combat and in time of peace. I like the fact that Marines consider the term "Marines take care of their own" as meaning we will give up our very life for our fellow Marines, if necessary.
"I like the fact that Marines have never failed the people of America and that we don't use the words "can't," "retreat" or "lose." I like the fact that the people of America hold Marines in the highest esteem and that they know that they can count on us to locate, close with and destroy those who would harm them!
"I like Marines. And being around Marines."
Being a Marine is far more than a title and paycheck, it carries with it 229 years of tradition.
In today's joint environment, more soldiers, sailors and Airmen find themselves serving side-by-side, on the ground, aboard ship and in the air with this elite corps. The United States military is far stronger because of it.
Marine Corps General Order 47 established the birthday celebration commemorating the establishment of the Continental Marines on Nov. 10, 1775. It directs that everywhere Marines are stationed, from the headquarters in Washington, D.C. to the smallest detachment, the celebration be conducted. On Nov. 6, 29 Marines stationed at Vance Air Force Base will host the Marine Corps ball to celebrate the 229th birthday of the Marine Corps. Happy birthday and God bless.