Sunday, November 07, 2021

USMC 246 years and counting

The 246th birthday of the United States Marine Corps was celebrated last night, a bit earlier than November 10, the original date of the 1775 first gathering.

The  Hotel Indigo in Mt. Pleasant was a well-prepared site and the room and service was outstanding.

The party started with a traditional bagpipe-led entry, followed by the reading of greetings from the first and the current Commandant. 

I quickly got into "newsman mode" and got up to roam around with my Android phone/camera to capture the mood and traditions.

I edged my way through the crowd to get a photo of  Major General James E. Livingston, Medal Of Honor recipient, doing the honors.

The General was the official cake-cutter, using an officer's sword.

(The newly-mixed Navy Rum Grog materials can be seen in the foreground, already mixed and to be  distributed later.)

Traditionally the first slice of cake goes to the oldest Marine in the room.

I found out later I missed being the oldest by only 2 years!

I had enlisted and served 1957-1960 so  Lt. Colonel Mac Radcliffe was handed his slice and started the cake-eating evening ceremony.

The ritual was completed by Sgt. James Brantly, proudly wearing his Scottish heritage outfit,

I had chatted with him during the cocktail hour and later I saw he had high-fived the bag-piper earlier in the evening.

Only two kilts in the crowd that proudly displayed medals and ribbons on a suit coat or arrayed on a uniform with six "hash marks", each indicating 4 years of service in the Corps."

Brantly was called forward and the General handed the young man the second slice, keeping a long-honored tradition among Marine Corps birthday celebrations.

I knew I was not going to be picked for that either and found the young Marine was born in 1986 so he easily beat me for the prized cake treat.
After the light-hearted fun of slicing and eating some traditional birthday cake, the mood in the room became somber.

A Sgt E-5 blouse and cap was silently brought and reverently placed at the MIA table that was set in the front center of the room.

A prayer was said and respectful silence followed as the salute was made to those Marines who had lost their lives.

This was followed by the Chef and staff who paraded in for a well-deserved round of applause after the salads and plates of sizzling steaks or mounds of salmon were delivered.

Then the decanters of the Grog were brought to each table and some serious consideration was given to the generous mix of several types of rum, club soda, lime, grapefruit juice - and maple syrup.

I was told it was a Navy tradition and the lime was to fight rickets. Seriously.

Polished off my steak and took just a wee sip of the grog.  I knew I had a 19-mile drive home. Probably in the heavy rain.

Looked on my phone weather radar map and there appeared to be an opening - a clearing - so I pushed back my chair, gave a hurried goodbye to my tablemates. kept dry getting to my car..I was halfway home when I realized I had not gotten a slice of the 246-year old cake. Damn!

Well, there's next year and maybe then I WILL be the oldest Marine and receive the traditional first slice!



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