“From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land and sea…”
Many of those from my generation would be familiar with the Hymn of the United States Marine Corps. It was one of those songs that we learned in school, together with the Battle Hymn of the Republic and Yankee Doodle, to name a few. Owe it to our American colonial past, perhaps, though the US Marine Corps had been a long-time friend of the Filipino people, especially during World War II where it saw action in these islands between 1942-1945.
Semper Fidelis, or its shortened version, Semper Fi. Latin for “Always Faithful” or “Always Loyal”. It has been the motto of the US Marine Corps since 1883.
Recently, I was invited by my good friend, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Sung Y. Kim, on behalf of the Marine Security Guard Detachment—Manila, to the 242nd Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Okada Manila.
The good Ambassador was, of course, the Guest of Honor. The Guest Speaker for the occasion was Lieutenant General David S. Berger, Commander of the US Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, a post he assumed in August 2016.
The event itself very much exemplified the Marine Corp way of life: disciplined; structured; regimental. The lightness and informality of the cocktail hour preceded the rather somber and rigid ceremony of the Ball. As is the case with military affairs such as this, there was an Adjutant’s Call, then a March of the Guest of Honor and Guest Speaker together with Ruffles and Flourishes, and the March and Posting of Colors.
Then the reading of John A. Lejeune’s message. Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune was the 13th Commandant of the US Marine Corps. On 01 November 1921, then-Major General Lejeune issued an order that in the annual celebration of the birthday of the US Marine Corp on 10 November 1921, and for every annual celebration thereafter, a message that he had written be read. This came to be known as the US Marine Corp birthday message.
Aside from this traditional message, there was also the reading of the birthday message of the current Commandant of the US Marine Corp, General Robert B. Neller.
Of course, as is also the case, no military celebration is complete, amidst the pomp and pageantry, without exquisite dining and much dancing. Who says that soldiers only know how to march? By golly, some of those mean terpsichorean I see on the floor belonged to the men in uniform.
To the US Marine Corp, I can only say:
“Here’s health to you and to (y)our Corps which (you) are proud to serve; in many a strife (you’ve) fought for life and never lost (y)our nerve!”