75 Years in the Making: Celebrating the Birth of the Marine Corps

November 1, 2021

10 November 1775. That was the day when the Second Continental Congress established the Continental Marines with the following decree:

That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates as with other battalions, that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies; unless dismissed by Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalions of Marines.

Happy Birthday, Marines

The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a celebration of Marine Corps history and the annual Birthday Ball ceremony represents and honors the Marine Corps past, present and future.

In 1921, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune, issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921, summarizing the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps and directed the order be read every year on 10 November to all Marines.

Since then, Marines not only recognize the day, but celebrate it. In 1923, a few Marine barracks organized a formal dance to honor the birthday. Those stationed at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team took on the Cuban team and found victory with a score of 9 to 8.

In 1925, the first Birthday Ball, as we recognize it today, took place in Philadelphia. Notable guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (known today as the Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, General Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern, the birthplace of the Marine Corps.

Since the Marines’ Memorial founding in 1946, we have held a Birthday Ball every year to honor this venerated celebration. From the Commandant of the Marine Corps and Secretary of the Navy to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and even a very special horse, the Marines’ Memorial Ball has been one of the West Coast's most sought after celebrations. We have never missed a chance to gather, even if it was around a computer screen in 2020.

We invite you to look through the many memories made at the Ball below! If you have a memory of a special Marine Corps Birthday Ball here at the Club, we would love to hear from you!