From the Halls of Montezuma

This Day in History

The United States Marine Corps are considered some of the bravest and toughest soldiers ever to don a uniform.  But how did this force-extraordinaire come into being?  

The U.S. Marine Corps began on November 10, 1775 when the Continental Congress issued a proclamation that “two Battalions of Marines be raised.”  Initially, they were to utilized as a security force for our Naval fleet and were considered to be “soldiers of the sea.”

Interestingly, it is rumored that early “recruitment” of Marines began over pints of ale at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. 

How could any strapping young man resist the lure of “adventure on the high seas?!!” Although, the location and tactics are still disputed, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia houses a restaurant curiously named the Tun Tavern, perhaps lending credence to the claims.  

Of course, the Marines are renowned for their extraordinary bravado but one wonders if musical talent is also a part of the package.  The United States Marine Corps Band has made quite a mark for itself in the entertainment world.  In fact, President Thomas Jefferson proudly called the group “The President’s Own.” 

United States Marine Corps Band playing in a parade

Their primary function is to provide music for state dinners and other ceremonial celebrations.  And certainly familiar to all Americans is their most famous composition entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa when he directed the USMC Band.

The United States Marine Corps was dissolved after the Revolutionary War but was again called into action on this day in 1798 when President John Adams signed an act into law re-instating them as a division of our Armed Forces in order  that they could be used to quell rising tensions between the French and English which had resulted in France’s harassment of American “merchant ships” as they traveled overseas.

And while the “Quasi War” quickly became “much ado about nothing,” the Marines soon found themselves in the midst of a much more pressing conflict due to the rise of the Barbary Pirates, a gang of Islamic North African corsairs, who had begun robbing American merchant ships and then demanding tribute, or ransom money from the U.S. government in order to secure the release of captives. 

In 1805, the Marines used ground combat tactics and successfully captured Derna on their way to Tripoli, a stronghold of the Barbary Pirates and immortalized in the Marine Corps Hymn.

The Marine Corps and its band inspires us with their glorious hymn not because they sing it, but  because they have lived it.

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