John Archer Lejeune was not the kind of man who writes the pages of history. He ran across them, and let other people do the writing in his wake. In 1921, as the thirteenth commandant of the Marines, he made a rare exception and wrote Marine Corps Order Number 47, designating November 10th of each year as the day to honor the founding of the Corps.
General LeJeune earned just about every medal his country had to offer, plus the Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre from France. When the exhausted Grim Reaper finally caught up with him in 1942, he made the poor specter carry a suitcase full of honors all the way to the Arlington National Cemetery. No one can improve on the words he chose to honor the Corps in Order Number 47:
“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.
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.
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.
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,
Young people may be most familiar with the “high name of distinction and soldierly repute” of the Marines through the recent HBO miniseries The Pacific. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend renting it out today. That feeling you get, when you watch John Basilone’s last stand on Iwo Jima? That’s your soul stirring. It’s well into its third century, but the Corps has seen a lot of men who only come along once in a thousand years.
The Marines are America’s answer to terror, piracy, and murder. When peace is broken, they fix it. Anyone in the world who seeks to prey upon the innocent had better be ready to answer to them. Here’s a little free advice: no one is. Let the monsters who infest the Earth reflect on that cold truth, while the rest of us celebrate the 235th anniversary of the worst day they ever had.