NOVEMBER 9, 2021 – Walter Reed National Military Medical Center celebrated the U.S. Marine Corps’ 246th birthday following morning colors Nov. 4.
The U.S. Marine Corps traces its roots to a resolution of the Second Continental Congress, which formed two battalions of Continental Marines as a service branch of infantry troops capable of fighting both on land and at sea, on Nov. 10, 1775 in Philadelphia.
“We stand here today to celebrate the birthday of an elite fighting force that is older than the nation it serves,” said Army Brig. Gen. Jack Davis, WRNMMC director.
“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli aren’t just lines in song. Those are places where Marines, in service to our nation, have actually fought, bled and died,” Davis continued. “That’s why when you think of military forces storming a beachhead, securing an island, taking a hill, or holding up the Stars and Stripes in triumph after overcoming adversity and incredible odds, you immediately think of our Marine Corps.”
“There’s a reason Marines say they are the ‘First to fight.’ There is a reason that every Marine is a rifleman first. I’m very proud of the longstanding relationship between the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, and I know who I want covering my six when the time comes,” Davis furthered.
“The Marines aren’t just about fighting. They’re about serving as well, particularly when it comes to the patients and families here at Walter Reed,” Davis added. “We don’t have very many Marines here on staff, but as the saying goes, you only need a few, and they are instrumental in helping us hold true to our purpose of providing extraordinary care to those we are privileged to serve.”
Guest speaker during the celebration, retired Marine 1st Sgt. Anthony Sims II, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on Nov. 4, 1996. He served in the infantry, intelligence, and in the drill field of the Marine Corps.
Sims said service members are faced at multiple times during their careers with challenges they must push through, and Marines have done this for more than two centuries. He added the legacy of the Corps and the service of today’s Marines will ensure the U.S. Marines Corps continues for another two and a half centuries.
“During my 21 years of service, I came to realize the greatest honor I had was to be able to don the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps, stand beside Marines, and lead them,” Sims continued. “When I joined the Marines, I would have never believed the places I’d go and goals I’d accomplished at that time.
The man that I am today is because of what the Marine Corps instilled in me – honor, courage and commitment. I am now a retired Marine, but every time I get a chance to sit down with service members and discuss the state of our nation, I let them know, and I’m letting you know, that I feel safe because I know the stewards who are still there, protecting this great nation, are doing an amazing job,” Sims said.
The celebration concluded with the traditional march on of the Marine Corps’ birthday cake, its cutting by the most senior and junior Marines in age in attendance, and their exchange of the first cake slice, a tradition symbolizing the passing of Marines’ heritage and legacy from one generation to the next, and the playing of the services’ songs.
Following the celebration, Dillon, a black Lab in WRNMMC’s facility dog program, was promoted to gunnery sergeant.
Story by Bernard Little
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center