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Happy birthday, Marine Corps

They may be small in numbers compared to other branches of the U.S. armed services, but when the going is tough, you know who America will call on.

The Marines.

The U.S. Marine Corps has been in existence a year longer than the nation it has so faithfully and honorably served. The Corps is 236th years old today, and is still as versatile, agile and plain out tough as it has ever been.

“As we celebrate our 236th birthday, let us look forward to future challenges — whatever they may be — and reaffirm our pledge to be America’s premier crisis response force; to be the first to fight...always ready for the toughest and most challenging assignments,” Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in part in a message that was read Wednesday when Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany marked the anniversary with a traditional cake.

As with the other branches of service, the Corps has been involved in a decade of intense work and fighting to secure America’s safety in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

As Amos stated, the Marines are America’s crisis response force, the quick-to-react military branch that goes into action at a moment’s notice. When time comes for battle, they’re the ones who kick the door in on the enemy.

But while every Marine is a warfighter, the Corps does even more.

“In the last 10 years of conflict, we’ve done many more things than fight (in Iraq and Afghanistan),” Maj. Gen. Chuck Hudson, commanding general of LOGCOM, said Wednesday. “In the past year, Marines and those supporting Marines have allowed us to add to our history.

“For those that wear the globe and anchor, this is a special day. We acknowledge our debt to our fallen angels, and the sacrifices they’ve made over the last 10 years.”

They have a proud tradition, and we are proud to have the U.S. Marine Corps as an important part of our community. It’s hard to imagine Albany — or Southwest Georgia, for that matter — without the existence of MCLB-Albany here for nearly a half-century. When you look at projects such as the truly state-of-the-art conversion of methane gas from the Dougherty landfill into fuel that the base can utilize. That sort of good neighbor impact that the base has on the community too often flies under the radar.

To the Corps and those who serve and who have served in it, we salute you. And we wish the Marine Corps many more of these birthday celebrations because each time we see the ceremonial sword cutting the cake, we know that is one more year that America is still the land of the free and, most certainly, the home of the brave.