The experience and mentorship of current and former Marines are the key to the Marine Corps’ success, the Defense Department’s senior enlisted member said during a Marine Corps birthday celebration Nov. 8 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.
“Marines around the room, most of whom have stowed away their uniforms to their footlockers, … are mentors and have paved the way for others to climb the ranks of success,” said Marine Sgt. Major Bryan Battaglia, the event’s keynote speaker and senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Those are the role models and bring experience to expertise. The Corps remains vibrant, resilient and relevant because of those people.”
The event, co-hosted by Kenneth Myers, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Defense Logistics Agency Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek, included a performance by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team and an appearance by Chesty the bulldog.
The Marine Corps was established by a committee of the Continental Congress who met at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Penn., to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore on Nov. 10, 1775.
During the ceremony, Article 38 of the Marine Corps Manual was read in honor of the Marine Corps birthday.
“The record of our Corps is one that which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history,” the manual reads.
Marines who have served were asked to stand and were recognized with a standing ovation.
In the 237th Marine Corps Birthday video, titled “For Honor, For Country,” Gen. James Amos, Marine Corps commandant and Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barret, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, recognized the historic Marine Corps legacy. The video also included personal interviews with dignitaries and Marines who are World War II veterans, wounded warriors, active-duty Marines and Marine spouses highlighting their dedication, commitment and love of country and Corps.
Battaglia said the room was filled with years of Marine Corps experience, both in and out of uniform.
“A wise man once said that sometimes the best way to gain a new idea is to read an old book. How true that is,” Battaglia said.
Today’s Marines carry on the legacy and lineage through courage and bravery that past generations have also shared, he said.
Battaglia said it was either fate or coincidence that the Marine Corps Birthday falls next to Veterans Day on the calendar. Every year, Marines celebrate the battle lineage to renew, honor and remember the privilege of serving the United States, he said.
The Marine Corps birthday cake was cut in front of the large crowd, and the first piece was presented to the guest of honor, Battaglia, per tradition. The second piece was presented to the oldest Marine present, former Sgt. Phyllis Bradford, who was born in 1923 and participated in World War II, and the third was presented to the youngest Marine present, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Seth Leonard, who was born in 1977 and served in Kosovo and Iraq.
“Any time you get an opportunity to speak in celebration of our Corps’ birthday, you take advantage of it. You are never too busy for something like this,” Battaglia said after the event.
When asked how he will personally celebrate the Marine Corps birthday, Battaglia said that he will be sharing it with his wife, Lisa, a Marine veteran.
“The beauty about Marines is we celebrate the birthday no matter where we and what we are doing,” he said.