Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
In a breathtaking display of red, white and blue, Marines aboard Camp Lejeune from various commands celebrated the 233rd Marine Corps birthday during the annual Joint Daytime Ceremony at Liversedge Field, Friday.
As the ceremony began, Cmdr. Robert H. Carpenter prayed for the protection of the fighting men and women overseas, as mothers and fathers have for more than two centuries before.
Then, with velvety green coats from the George Washington era, to green digital camouflage utilities, the audience was taken on a journey from 1775 to present. Uniforms were featured from each major war and battle. One pageant Marine wore a cap adorned with bright red feathers, the uniform of the Marines who fought on “the shores of Tripoli.” Another Marine wore a “Bugle Boy” blue ensemble representing Marines during the war between the United States and Mexico. The pageant, through its timeless array of regalia, proved that Marines, regardless of “clime or place,” have always donned the most stunning of uniforms.
Quiet sobs slowly rose from the crowd as the name of each war was read and the Marines in the corresponding garb solemnly bowed their heads to represent those who have fought and fallen in the years the Marine Corps has spent in action.
Attendees were reminded that throughout the globe Marines continue to distinguish themselves on battlefields and foreign shores, in both war and peace, read Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message.
“…it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history,” reads the message. “This high name of distinction and soldierly repute, we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps.”
In his birthday message, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway, reminded Marines that the war on terrorism did not begin with the attacks of 11 Sept. and why the Corps continues to press on.
“When our chapter of history is written, it will be a saga of a selfless generation of Marines who were willing to stand up and fight for our nation,” writes Gen. Conway. “To defend those who could not defend themselves, to thrive on the hardships and sacrifice expected of an elite warrior class, to march to the sound of the guns, and to ably shoulder the legacy of those Marines who have gone before.”
Preceding him by almost four decades, Master Gunnery Sgt. Ronald D. Ross, logistics chief for Marine Corps base, presented a piece of cake to Pfc. Matthew Cramer, a student at the School of Infantry - East, in the traditional cake cutting ceremony. Ross, the oldest active duty Marine present, has served in the Corps for more than 29 years and is 37 years senior to Cramer, who enlisted in June just 12 days after his 18th birthday.
“The experience was thrilling,” said a beaming Cramer. “It’s an amazing honor for me, few people ever get to do this.”
As the ceremony came to a close, the Marines in pageant attire gathered around Col. Richard Flatau, base commanding officer, and Sgt Maj. William Rice, base sergeant major. As the Marine leaders looked out over the diverse array of Marines representing the first 233 years of a strong, powerful Marine Corps, one couldn’t help but wonder what the next 233 years had in store for this elite warrior class.