Marine Corps Birthday

The Marine Corps Birthday is celebrated on November 10th every year to commemorate the day the Continental Marines were established. While Marines have celebrated this day for almost 250 years, it was not until the 1920s that it was celebrated as an official holiday and given a bit of pageantry—all thanks to Marine Corps Order 47.

History of the Marine Corps Birthday

November 10th is the official Marine Corps Birthday because that is when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines in 1775. The Continental Congress decreed that two battalions of Marines be raised to serve during the war between Great Britain and the Colonies.

They also decreed that these two battalions consist of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, and two majors and that all recruits be good seamen or well acquainted with maritime affairs. When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, Congress disestablished the Continental Marines as well as the Continental Navy.

It would not be re-established until President John Adams re-established it in July of 1798. However, although July 11 would become the actual date that the modern Marine Corps was re-established, November 10th would remain forever as its birthday. Throughout the years, the Marine Corps as an organization did not celebrate its birthday.

Sure, individual Marines would acknowledge that November 10th was the Marine Corps Birthday, but there would not be an organization-wide celebration. However, that changed in 1921. This is when Major Edwin North McClellan suggested to Commandant John A.

Lejeune that November 10th be established as the official birthday of the Marine Corps. On November 1st, 1921, Commandant Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order 47—the order that established November 10th as the official birthday of the Marine Corps.

It was not until 1925, however, that the first formal ball was held. From this period all the way to the beginning of the 1950s, Marine Birthday Balls were held every year, but they did not have formal ceremonies. Some of them included mock battles, others were held as pageants or sporting events.

It was not until 1952 that the celebrations would be standardized by Commandant Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., and it was not until 1956 that these procedures would be placed in the official Marine Corps Drill Manual.

Marine Corps Birthday Customs & Celebrations

By tradition, celebrations are as follows: a cake is presented and sliced with the first slice given to the oldest Marine present; the oldest Marine then passes it to the youngest Marine present—which symbolizes the transfer of experience from veterans to a new generation of Marines.

Then there is a reading of Marine Corps Order 47 and a message from the current Commandant. When possible, the Marine Corps Birthday celebration also includes a ball or banquet with food and dancing.

Marines are known to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday no matter where they are stationed or in what conditions they are currently living. By tradition, they celebrate this day regardless of whether they are at home or in some inhospitable climate, halfway around the world.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
November 10 Sunday
Next year (2025)
November 10 Monday
Last year (2023)
November 10 Friday