Marines celebrate their 241st birthday at UIndy

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A veteran in the audience watches a video message from the commandant of the Marine Corps on Nov. 10. Photo by Angela Mercado

A veteran in the audience watches a video message from the commandant of the Marine Corps on Nov. 10. Photo by Angela Mercado

The University of Indianapolis celebrated the Marines’ 241st birthday at 4 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the Stierwalt Alumni House. Former Mayor Greg Ballard started off the ceremony by speaking to all the Marines or issuing a “Call to Order.”

According to the U.S. Marine Corps website, since the Continental Congress established the Marine Corps in 1775 to fight on land and sea, every Nov. 10 the Marines celebrate the day of their birth. All across the world, Marines commemorate the progress of their branch of service and these lost in battle.

The primary tradition is to have a Marine Birthday Ball, which is similar to  the Marine Birthday at UIndy, but with dancing. A Marine attending the UIndy event, Cpl. Kevin Buetow, said the ball “is like prom on steroids.”

Generally at the celebrations, Marines receive a few congratulatory words from the host and then a message from their commandant praising those who served and are still serving. Afterwards, while bagpipes are playing,  a few Marines escort a cake to the center of the room, which is ceremoniously cut with a Mameluke sword, or as it is commonly known, an officer’s sword. Once cut, a piece is given to the oldest Marine in attendance. After taking a bite, the eldest Marine says, “This food is fit for human consumption.”  Then the youngest Marine attending takes a bite and declares the same. This particular tradition is to show the passing down of traditions from the eldest Marine to the youngest according to Buetow.

After Ballard, a Marine named Joseph Lohman spoke to everyone at the birthday.

“I’m a man, a husband, and a father. I’m a Marine, and I’m a brother to all those who claim the title U.S. Marine,” Lohman said. “… I believe, deep down, all of us Marines hold true [to] all of our traditions and try to uphold them to the utmost. At times, it takes a Marine to remind all of us what it is we stand for.”

After Lohman spoke, a five-minute video message from the commandant was played.

After the video, the Marines’ voices echoed through the Stierwalt Alumni House as they sang the Marines’ Hymn.

When the hymn was finished, some Marines shouted, “Ooh rah!”

Then the cake was brought out. Standing at attention, four Marines carefully walked the cake to the center of the room. Ballard cut the cake with the officer’s sword and gave a piece to the eldest Marine, who in turn took a bite and gave it to the youngest to consume as well. Then the rest of those in attendance received a piece of the cake.

“I appreciate that they [Marines] are willing to leave their families to fight for me and our country,” said sophomore public health major Julia Brunnemer.

Semper Fi, as the Marines say, or Semper Fidelis, in Latin, means always faithful.

“Honor guides marines,” Lohman said. “To exemplify the ultimate and ethical moral behavior, to never lie, cheat or steal, [and] to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, respecting of dignity to respect others.”

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