One of my favorite bits is the cutting of the cake itself. Being the kind of guys we are, we always cut the cake with a sword. During this portion of the ceremony, a piece of cake is given to the oldest Marine present as a sign of respect to his seniority and experience. The oldest Marine then gives a piece of cake to the youngest Marine present symbolizing the passing of knowledge and tradition, as well as the duty of senior Marines to mentor and nurture young Marines.
This year our oldest Marine was a gentleman who was born in 1932 and joined the Corps in the early ’50s and retired as a Sergeant Major after three decades of service. He was deeply honored to attend and kept thanking me in his pleasant southern drawl. I think I got the better part of the bargain.
|Generations collide! Our oldest and youngest Marines in attendance.|
The Friday before the ball I walked into our admin shop to spot a Private First Class in Service Alphas. He had just arrived that day from the School Of Infantry and was checking in to the battalion. He leaped to his feet as I spoke to him, my sergeants glaring nearby in case the poor young lad committed any faux pas of military courtesy. A thought struck me as I was talking to him.
ASM: “What are you doing tomorrow?”
PFC: “Uh, nothing SgtMaj.”
ASM: “Do you have dress blues?”
PFC: “Yes SgtMaj.”
ASM: “Be at the hotel tomorrow at 10:00 for practice. You’re going to the ball.”
Thus I had chosen our youngest Marine. Within 24 hours of checking in to his battalion, he was participating in the cake cutting ceremony of our 239th birthday. That’s how we do business.
A very happy birthday to the World’s Finest, United States Marines!