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The Art of Pageantry

21 Nov 2011 | Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

In a world of rushed greetings and salutes, the Marine Corps birthday is the one time of year where Marines can slow down and remember their roots. It becomes a time where Marines prepare their uniforms, dwell on tradition and history, and just enjoy being a Marine – part of a long and proud legacy. On this day, Marines will make sure to look their absolute best from head to toe.

The Marine Corps' birthday Ball is an event where Marines gather and celebrate their birthday together, and in doing so, know they need to be completely squared away. The Marines will primp, press and proudly wear the uniform that is iconic of a United States Marine, the dress blue alphas.

The dress blues or "superman suit" as some Marines like to refer to them, is the uniform to which Marines pay extra attention, making sure everything is pressed, straight and shiny. Looking good in this uniform is the first step in a successful birthday ball.

The Marine Corps birthday is steeped in history and tradition. The uniform, the ceremony, and the cake is all part of the ritual that is the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

On the birthday, it is not uncommon to hear “happy birthday” from passing Marines.

Extra effort is made by every Marine to make the day special. It not only reminds them of their proud lineage, but also reminds them of the Marines who have gone before them, and those who will not be able to join them at the ball.

The Marines will strut around with their chests puffed out to show off their medals. They will rise when told to hear the messages of Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune and that of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos. They will eat their birthday meal and watch the oldest Marine eat his slice of the cake and present it to the youngest Marine in attendance. A cake cutting ceremony is a highly regarded tradition in the Corps; it signifies a passing of knowledge from the old to the new.

When the formalities of the ball ceremonies end, the Marines can kick back and enjoy themselves on their birthday. Marines will dance, sing and cheer in the uniforms they worked so hard to perfect and bring the night of revelry to a close and wake up to another day as a United States Marine. Semper Fidelis and Happy birthday Marines!

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