Official traditions and customs
Card given to recruits bearing the Core values
The Marine Corps Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment have gained increased prominence in recent years. As an emphasis on performing morally on and off duty, the concept of core values has been infiltrated into many aspects of Marine life, beginning in recruit training and continuing into combat. These "warrior ethos" provide guidance to Marines in difficult ethics situations and as a reminder to provide good order and discipline
Main article: Marines' Hymn
The Marines' Hymn dates back to the 19th century and is the oldest official song in the U.S. Armed Forces. It embraces some of the most important battles of the Corps at that time, including Chapultepec and Derna. Subtle changes and unofficial verses have been added as the history of the Corps grew
Eagle, Globe, and Anchor
A rendition of the emblem on the flag of the U.S. Marine Corps
The official Marine Corps emblem is the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, sometimes abbreviated "EGA". Adopted in its present form in 1868 by Commandant Jacob Zeilin, it derives partially from ornaments worn by the Continental Marines and the British Royal Marines, and is usually topped with a ribbon reading "Semper Fidelis". The original eagle was a Crested Eagle found in the Americas, not the bald eagle that appears in the current emblem. The eagle stands on the Western Hemisphere and holds in its beak a scroll bearing the motto "Semper Fidelis," though the scroll is sometimes omitted from uniform insignia. An anchor fouled with rope stands behind the globe, and while it generally points to the left, it can be found reversed when paired so that the anchors continually face the other. The eagle stands for a proud country, the globe signifies worldwide service, and the fouled anchor signifies naval tradition.
The use of the emblem became official when the seal was adopted in 1955
Seal & colors
On June 22, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Executive Order, which approved the design of an official seal for the United States Marine Corps. The new seal had been designed at the request of the Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.
The new seal consisted of the traditional Marine Corps Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem in bronze; however, an American bald eagle replaced the Crested Eagle depicted on the 1868 emblem, and is depicted with wings displayed, standing upon the western hemisphere of the terrestrial globe, and holding in his beak a scroll inscribed with the Marine Corps motto "Semper Fidelis" with the hemisphere superimposed on a fouled anchor. The seal is displayed on a scarlet background encircled with a Navy blue band edged in a gold rope rim and inscribed "Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps" in gold letters.
Coincident with the approval of this seal by the President, the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem centered on the seal was adopted in 1955 as the official Marine Corps Emblem.
The blue signifies naval ties, while the scarlet and gold are the official Marine Corps colors. They appear ubiquitously in the Marine Corps, particularly on signage. They also form the base colors of the flag of the United States Marine Corps.
The Marine motto "Semper Fidelis" means "always faithful" in Latin. This motto often appears in the shortened form "Semper Fi" /ˌsɛmpər ˈfaɪ/. It is also the name of the official march of the Corps, composed by John Phillip Sousa. It was adopted in 1883 when Commandant Charles McCawley added it to the seal, before which the traditional mottos were "Fortitudine" (With Fortitude); "By Sea and by Land", a translation of the Royal Marines' "Per Mare, Per Terram"; and "To the Shores of Tripoli", which was later revised to "From the Halls of the Montezumas to the Shores of Tripoli" and formed the first lines of the Marines' Hymn.
The recruiting slogan of "A Few Good Men" (as opposed to the play and film) derives from a Continental Marines recruiting poster:
“ The Continental ship Providence, now lying at Boston, is bound on a short cruise, immediately; a few good men are wanted to make up her complement." (Marine Captain William Jones, Providence Gazette, 20 March 1779.
The modern recruiting slogan is "the few, the proud, the Marines
The Rifleman's Creed is a similar concept as the motto, but offers a more modern look at doctrine. It explains to a recruit the importance of his or her weapon but also emphasizes the moral motivations behind using it.
Mameluke Sword and Marine Noncommissioned Officers' Sword, 1859-Present
Two styles of swords are worn by Marines. The Marine Corps officers' sword is a Mameluke Sword, similar to the Persian shamshir presented to Lt. Presley O'Bannon after the Battle of Derna during the First Barbary War. After its adoption in 1825 and initial distribution in 1826, Mameluke Swords have been worn by Marine officers ever since, except during the period 1859–1875, when they were required to wear the Army's Model 1850-foot officers' sword. Upon returning to the traditional sword, many officers gave their Army swords to their senior noncommissioned officer, creating the basis for the NCO sword. Generally, Marines are the only branch where enlisted members regularly carry a sword (the Army authorizes platoon and first sergeants to carry a Model 1840 sword during some ceremonies, while the Chief of Naval Operations authorized Chief Petty Officers and above to carry an optional ceremonial cutlass with dress uniforms in 2010).
Main article: United States Marine Corps birthday ball
The Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated every year on 10 November, when the Second Continental Congress raised two battalions of Marines. Tun Tavern is regarded as the location of the first Marines to enlist under Commandant Samuel Nicholas.
Prior to 1921, Marines celebrated the July 11, 1798 recreation of the Corps (having been disbanded following the end of the Revolutionary War) with little fanfare. Then, Marine Corps Order 47 was published by Commandant John A. Lejeune:
“ MARINE CORPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921) HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS Washington, November 1, 1921
759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.
1.On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them 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.
2.The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
3.In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
4.This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.
JOHN A. LEJEUNE, Major General Commandant 75705--21
The celebrations were formalized by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. in 1952, outlining the cake cutting ceremony, which would enter the Marine Drill Manual in 1956. By tradition, the first slice of cake is given to the oldest Marine present, who in turn hands it off to the youngest Marine present, symbolizing the old and experienced Marines passing their knowledge to the new generation of Marines. Lejeune's message is also republished annually.
Drill & ceremonies
Close Order Drill is heavily emphasized early on in a Marine's training. Formal ceremonies, such as the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, a change of command, or a retirement, will almost always incorporate some form of close order drill. The Marine Corps uses close order drill to teach discipline by instilling habits of precision and automatic response to orders, increase the confidence of junior officers and noncommissioned officers through the exercise of command and give Marines an opportunity to handle individual weapons.
The Mess Night is a borrowed tradition of ceremonial dining. Originally a British Army tradition, it has become an honored tradition of enjoying drink, good food, and fellowship with a Marine's comrades, as well as honoring those who have perished in battle.
“ Except for the annual celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday, no social function associated with the smaller of America's naval services is more enjoyed, admired and imitated than the mess night .