Marines from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany participate in a uniform pageant to display the uniforms of Marines past and present at a birthday celebration Wednesday. The U.S. Marine Corps will celebrate its 238th birthday on Sunday. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)
MCLB-ALBANY — Marines and civilian Marines from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and its tenant commands celebrated the 238th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps with its traditional birthday cake-cutting ceremony and uniform pageant aboard the installation on Wednesday morning.
The Marine Corps was established on Nov. 10, 1775. The tradition calls for the birthday cakes to be cut with a Mameluke sword by the commanding officer, in this case Col. Donald Davis, commanding officer of the Albany installation. The first piece goes to the oldest Marine present to be passed along to the youngest Marine present at the ceremony.
On Wednesday, the oldest Marine present was 49-year-old Sgt. Maj. Conrad Potts, sergeant major of base, who enlisted in the Corps in 1981. The youngest was Lance Cpl. Cree Gaines, 19, who in enlisted as a Marine in 2012.
The uniform pageant features Marine Corps garb from the Revolutionary War era onward, with a brief overview of the Corps’ history as a way to showcase, highlight and remember those who have served by wearing the uniforms of those who have fought and are currently fighting.
In his remarks, Davis spoke how the Marines strive to never forget who they are, and what celebrating the occasion means to him — even as some of the things within the Corps have changed over time.
“It means remembering those who have gone before,” Davis said. “Freedom is not free, and Marines will pay their fair share of the cost. That will not change.
“The commitment has not changed. The technology and uniforms have been the biggest changes (that I’ve seen), but we will also be riflemen first.”
The Marine Corps birthday celebration has served since Nov. 1, 1921, by the order of then Commandant Gen. John A. LeJuene, as a reminder of the accomplishments of the Corps’ service since its inception.
Gen. James Amos, the current commandant of the Marine Corps, sent out a message ahead of the birthday on Sunday reflecting on the Marine history and the responsibility of the current generation to make its own marks and pass on the legacy. The message was read at Wednesday’s ceremony following a reading of LeJuene’s order.
“For 238 years, the United States Marine Corps has proudly served our great Nation with unfailing valor — bolstered by the enduring fortitude of our fellow Marines, our families, and our friends,” the message from Amos reads. “This is why each year on November 10th, Marines from all generations gather together, in groups large and small, to celebrate the birthday of our Corps and to reflect on the proud legacy and warrior ethos we share. This is what unites us as Marines. From our first battle at New Providence to today in Afghanistan, Marines have always shown that they were made of tougher stuff — that when the enemy’s fire poured in from all angles, and the situation was grim, Marines unequivocally knew that their fellow Marines would stay behind their guns, fight courageously, and drive the enemy from the battlefield. We have always known hardship, fatigue, and pain … but we have never known what it is to lost a battle!
“Marines of generations past built our reputation as the most disciplined and honorable warriors to ever set foot on a battlefield, and we have triumphed in every battle because our Corps has always focused on iron discipline and combat excellence. This is who we are … this is what we do! It matters not whether you carried an M-1, an M-14, or M-16. It matters not whether you fought on a lonely island in the Pacific, assaulted a citadel in the jungle, or marched up to Baghdad. It matters not whether you are a grunt, a pilot of a loggie. What matters is that, when the chips were down and things got tough, your fellow Marines could count on you to stand and fight … and fight you did …”