MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
He grasped his rifle in a steady port arms position, his eyes not focused on those around him, but locked forward for the task at hand. He marched briskly forward, the points of his cover slicing through the chilly morning air. At his mark, he executed a left-face and stood at-ease, holding his position as his 18th century Continental Marines uniform drew the eyes of the hundreds of onlookers around him.
The showing of historical uniforms of the past generations of Marines was one of the cornerstone events conducted during the annual Joint Daytime Ceremony, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and tenant commands’ celebration of the Marine Corps birthday, at Liversedge Field aboard the base, Nov. 9.
“This ceremony is all about the customs, courtesies and traditions of our Marine Corps,” said Sgt. Maj. William C. Rice, sergeant major of MCB Camp Lejeune. “Marines from across the base come together to reflect on the Corps’ history and how the traditions we practice today won’t change with age.”
The ceremony started with the marching and presentation of the various color guards of all tenant commands aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, including Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and the Joint Maritime Center. After all were in position, the historical pageant was held, showcasing a total of 15 uniform variations, beginning with the original garb first worn in 1775 and concluding with the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniforms Marines wear today. An in-depth characterization was read by the ceremony’s narrator for each uniform adaption, describing the various conflicts each uniform saw and what notable Marines wore them.
“A lot of Marines don’t know the history behind our uniforms and the changes they’ve gone through,” said Staff Sgt. Lacostia Powell, supply chief with Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “I feel it’s important to their professional development that the young Marines know about them, as well as the other traditions we have.”
Following the pageant, the “roll call of honor” was sounded as taps was played by a lone bugler. Participants and attendees bowed their heads in remembrance for the Marines of the past and present lost.
The final event for the ceremony was the cake presentation and cutting, in which a three-tiered cake was presented to Col. Daniel J. Lecce, commanding officer of MCB Camp Lejeune, and Rice, who proceeded to cut and present a slice of birthday cake to the oldest and youngest Marines present, being Col. Grover Lewis, assistant chief of staff for Security and Emergency Services Department, Marine Corps Installations Command East, and Pfc. Alicia Avendano, clerk with the Administrative Service Center, Headquarters Battalion, School of Infantry – East.
“The whole thing really opens your eyes to how set we are in our traditions,” said Pfc. Robert Twining, student at the Logistics Operations School aboard Camp Johnson. “My father retired from the Marine Corps after 22 years of service, and after hearing how today’s ceremony was, he said nothing about it has changed, just as all of our Corps’ traditions.”
As the ceremony concluded and the various color guards and pageant Marines marched off the field, attendants were not only given a show of history and birthday celebration, but also reminded of everything the Marine Corps stands for and will continue to stand for. Traditions, like the Marines themselves, will ensure the succeeding generations of war fighters do not lose sight of what makes the Corps the forefront of America’s military.