Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps
During the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur said, “I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world.” Like so many others throughout history, MacArthur was a witness to the legacy of honor, discipline, and courage that has always been persistent in the nature of the United States Marine Corps. Today, we recognize the 242nd birthday of the Corps and honor the sacrifices that each and every Marine has made to defend our nation.
Happy 242nd birthday, Marines! (YouTube video credit: U.S. Marines)
On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. These Continental Marines served on land and at sea during the Revolutionary War, helping to establish the proud tradition of what we know today as the United States Marine Corps.
Captain Samuel Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines. In 1776, he led the first Marine landing on a hostile shore against British forces in the Bahamas. Nicholas and his men distinguished themselves and captured an enemy fort on New Providence Island without suffering a single casualty.
A modern painting of the Continental Marines landing on the shores of New Providence Island in the Bahamas in 1776. Painting by Charles H. Waterhouse and titled, First Landing. (Photo: awiatsea.com)
In 1783, American independence was finally achieved. After the Revolutionary War, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded. As new global conflicts emerged over the next decade, the U.S. Congress was compelled to formally establish the U.S. Navy in May of 1798. The Marines followed soon after. On July 11, President John Adams signed a bill that established the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy.
Since being established as a permanent military force in 1798, the Marines have made themselves known to history as some of the fiercest warriors ever to have stepped on a battlefield. 299 Marines have been awarded the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. The Corps’ legend is enhanced even further when considering that they have participated in some of the most difficult encounters in military history. In fact, since the first years of the 19th century, the Marines have been engaged in all the wars of the United States. During those conflicts, the Corps has conducted more than 300 landings on foreign shores.
U.S. Marines at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)
The United States Marine Corps is a true force to be reckoned with. Regardless of the challenges that await us, our nation can always count on the Marines. Semper Fidelis!