MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
More than two thousand members of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune community gathered at Liversedge field to celebrate the Marine Corps’ 241st birthday with the Joint Daytime Ceremony, Nov. 9.
The ceremony distinguishes the Marine Corps from other branches by celebrating its history and heritage. The Camp Lejeune community also welcomed as its guest of honor, the Honorable Raymond Mabus who is wrapping up a seven-year tenure as Navy Secretary.
"The history of the Marine Corps is as bright and shining today as it has been in its history," said Mabus. Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, major subordinate commands and other tenant commands were all involved in the rededication of the National and Marine Corps colors.
The ceremony featured the traditional cake-cutting ceremony, which symbolized the passing of the Corps’ legacy and knowledge from the oldest to the newest generation of Marines. The uniform pageant had Marines in historical uniforms from different eras to show the evolution of the Marine Corps from its beginning in 1775 to the present. While many Marines know the basic history of the Marine Corps, the ceremony helped them broaden their knowledge on the many battles in which the Corps has distinguished itself.
"It’s good for junior Marines to see how the legacy has been carried on throughout the years," said Cpl. Kevin Umanzor, administrative specialist with Headquarters and Support Battalion.
At the end of the ceremony, Mabus presented Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany leaders with the Secretary of the Navy Energy and Water Management awards. He also revealed a future amphibious ship would be named USS Bougainville, in honor of a Pacific Island campaign that lasted more than a year.
"First, (congratulations) to the Marines who got the awards," said Mabus, "For 241 years, when the nations called, the Marines have answered. From their founding at Tun Tavern before we became a country, to the fight during the Revolution to secure our independence, to Iraq and Fallujah.
"I go through that history for two reasons," he said. "After 241 years the Marine Corps continues to carry on the traditions and values the make it great. All the Marines and Sailors present are the future of the military and will continue to fight together as brothers in arms.
"The Marines in the Corps today are the rightful heirs to those Marines that have come before you. You are their equal in skill and dedication," said Mabus. "So on this 241st birthday we look back and forward with tradition and pride. Nobody can touch the United States Marine Corps. Nobody. It is your job to make sure that never changes, so ‘Ooh rah’, Marines, Semper Fi, and happy birthday."
Mabus was scheduled to participate in another ship naming ceremony in honor of the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general officer, LtGen. Frank E. Petersen at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point later that afternoon and attend a 2nd Marine Division command element ball in the evening before departing back to Washington, D.C.