If you see a Marine around town today, wish him or her the happiest of birthdays! Today, the U.S. Marine Corps is celebrating its 244th birthday!

On Thursday, I attended the annual birthday ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, which highlights the Corps’ evolution through the years.

It’s a fascinating event emphasizing the Marines’ rich history, dating back to Nov. 10, 1775, when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that “two battalions of Marines be raised.”

Since that moment, the Marines have played a critical role in defending our nation, serving in the Revolutionary War, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Battle of Guantanamo Bay, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and more.

A variety of these moments are highlighted during the MCAS Yuma ceremony, which includes a pageant of uniforms from various times in history, and emphasizes the role women have played in the Corps’ history as well. The pageant honors the Marines of the past, the present and the future.

There are two parts of the ceremony that stand out every year.

One is when a birthday cake is rolled on to the field, and the first piece is given to the oldest Marine on the base, who takes a bite and hands it over to the youngest Marine on the base. The passing of the cake symbolizes the importance and tradition of the older Marines nurturing and leading the younger Marines.

The announcer shares that the oldest Marine at MCAS Yuma, the Station Sergeant Major, was born on Oct. 16, 1968. The youngest Marine, a Lance Corporal with the Provost Marshal’s Office, was born Sept. 5, 2000. The youngest Marine’s birth date always earns a collective gasp from the crowd.

The second best part of the ceremony happens a few moments before, when a Search and Rescue helicopter delivers the sword used to cut the cake.

Is there any better way to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday than by cutting a cake with a sword delivered by helicopter? It’s pretty spectacular!

To our Marine friends and family in Yuma County, happy birthday, and Semper Fi!

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