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Birthday Traditions



The Marine Corps Birthday is one of the biggest social events of the year for Marines all over the world.

On 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to raise two battalions of Marines. Congress commissioned thirty-one year old Samuel Nicholas, a well-known Philadelphian, as captain of the fledgling force of Continental Marines.

From Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Nicholas raised two battalions of Marines as directed and began the long illustrious history of the United States Marine Corps. Every year since 1925 the founding of the Marine Corps has been celebrated with a Birthday Ball. On or around the 10th of November each year, whether Marines are in the thick of battle or at peace, we always take a moment to observe the birth of our illustrious Corps.

At a minimum Marines generally practice the tradition of cutting and sharing a birthday cake, as well as reading the Commandants' birthday messages. When possible, Marines prefer to celebrate the birth of our distinguished military organization with a formal military ball.

Generally the only people who get to experience this event are the Marines and their dates. A few distinguished guests from around the country and globe get the honor to attend the Commandant's Ball in Washington D.C. State Department personnel and foreign dignitaries look forward to attending the event hosted by the Marines stationed at the U.S. embassies around the world.

Cocktail Hour
Fallen Comrade
Sword Detail
Entrance of Detachment Commandant/
Guest of Honor
Color Guard
Cake Cutting
Introduction of Guest of Honor
Guest of Honor Remarks
Recognition of Sponsors & Awards

Evening Schedule of Events

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The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is a black tie event. The attire of Marines, others services members, and civil guests should refelct the formal nature of the evening.

Marines, Other Service Members and Veterans

The appropraite uniform is Dress Blues, or Evening Dress uniforms. For other services you should wear the appropiate equivalent dress uniform from your repective branch. Veterans are authorized to where their unform, provided the do so according to regulations - groaming standards etc.

Marine Corps League Members, and Other Veteran Organizations

The Marine Corps League Red blazer dress uniform and the Marine Corps League Evening Dress uniform are appropraite attire. Also just wearing the Marine Corps League cover would be appropriate. Other veteran organizations should wear their equivalent dress uniform.

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Civilian Guests &
Veterans not Wearing a Uniform

Men should wear a Tuxedo or a dark suit and tie at a minimum. Veterans may want to add their miniture medals to their Tux. Ladies, this is your chance to get your man to dress up and your opportunity to dazzle in your finest dress or evening gown. Keep it classy.


Etiquette: Do's and Don'ts

The Marine Corps Ball is a formal elegant affair, but it is also a celebration and Marines like to have fun. With that said there are some things to keep in mind


-Do dress appropriately
-Do find your seats before the ceremony starts
-Do silence your cell phones

-Do be respectful of the ceremony & traditions
-Do follow the promotes to stand, sit, etc.
-Do drink responsibly
-Do make new friends
-Do join in singing the Marines Hymn
-Do enjoy yourself ad have fun


-Don't arrive late. The Marines will close when the ceremony starts
-Don't be disrespectful

-Don't interrupt the ceremony

-DO NOT enter the ceremony area of the ballroom during the ceremony. The Marines will be highly offend. Remember, they know how to yell, are trained to fight, and some will have swords

Dancing & Fun

After dinner there will be music for dancing. Please enjoy the rest of the evening dancing, having cocktails, meeting the Marines making new friends. The Ballroom will be open for fun until midnight. Pssst... You will likely find the Marines a the hotel bar afterward if you're up to it. 
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