By Sorayda Rivera
Student Life Editor
For hundreds of years, the U.S. Marine Corps has trained to improvise, adapt and overcome obstacles in situations where needed. This Nov. 10 marks the 245th birthday of the Marine Corps.
Retired veteran Master Sgt. Michael Evans from Houston said he decided to join the Marines because his recruiter offered the opportunity to become a part of a team. He was challenged to do something greater than just a job.
“He convinced me that I could develop traits and principles that would enable me to protect and change the world, and hone leadership skills that could help me improve the lives of my family and community,” Evans said.
Every year on Nov. 10 is an opportunity for Marines to celebrate and reflect on the history made by those who came before them. Evans said the Marine’s birthday is “a time to formally reaffirm our commitment to God, country, Corps, and revel in thankful glee with fellow Marines that we — past, present and future — all have one heart; and it beats loudly for the United States of America.”
During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress commanded that two battalions, a large body of troops ready for battle, be developed to help fight in the war and thus began the Marines.
According to marines.com, since 1775 the Marines have fought in numerous battles to defend the American constitution, protect its people and stabilize the world in a time of crisis.
Veteran Sgt. Miguel Angel Garcia, who is an East Texan native, explained what being a Marine means to him.
“Being a Marine to me is always doing the right thing and always stepping up when you see others in need. Even if you’re no longer in the service, the Marine in you never leaves. It’s ingrained in you,” Garcia said.
Garcia served for six years in the Marines and said the most important lesson he learned was how to be accountable for his own actions, whether they’re good or bad.
While the Marine Corps Birthday is not observed as a holiday by post office and bank closures, Nov. 10 is observed as an “internal” military holiday where past and present Marines can commemorate together.
Garcia said the Marine’s birthday means celebrating the day the Marine Corps came alive. It means “being with a rare breed of individuals who took that challenge to become a part of the few and earned the title Marine,” Garcia said. “It’s a time we can all just be brothers and sisters and celebrate regardless of rank and just have a good time and be proud of being Marines.”
Every year to celebrate the birthday, Marines host a Birthday Ball, which is held all over the world to honor and celebrate their legacy, as stated on marines.com.
According to marinesbenefit.info, the earliest known Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925. It has since transformed into an elaborate and tradition-filled day celebrated at military bases in America and abroad.
The Birthday Ball includes a ceremony with speeches, dinner and cake cutting. The first piece of cake is normally given to the guest of honor, and the second piece is given to the oldest Marine in attendance then passed to the youngest. This tradition signifies the passing of experience and knowledge from the old Marines to the young, according to marines.com.
Evans said his fondest memories of the Birthday Ball are having about 15 family and friends join him at the ball and dancing the night away with his niece and godkids.
Now that he is a retired Marine, Evans said he sometimes still attends active Marine unit birthday balls.
“I join the birthday celebration with the Marine Corps League or Marine Corps Association,” Evans said. “I meet with one or a few other Marines for cake and a toast, and all of the usual reflections of our family of misfits.”
In the 23 years and 11 months Evans devoted his life to the Marine Corps, he said the most important lesson he learned is “love is the real key to leading and the reason anyone should set out to do anything.”
“Love of family, friends, community, country, and ultimately humanity will motivate and energize you to succeed at anything. Knowing that we’re all connected and that having a duty of care to everyone around you with love as the guiding principle encourages you to do the right thing, for the right reason, at the right time.”