On display for our entire nation, Marine bands, color guards and the Silent Drill Platoon exemplify the discipline, precision and skill required to serve as United States Marines. These traditions provide a great source of pride, but there are many more that also bond Marines to the warriors who came before them. From the nautical terms we use to the nicknames we've earn in battle, these are the traditions that represent our Corps with honor.
Marine Corps Birthday
Marking the birth of our Corps and honoring our proud lineage of warriors, November 10th is a celebratory occasion throughout our ranks. Since the official order that established it as a Marine Corps holiday in 1921, the Marine Corps birthday has been a yearly reminder of the brave spirit that has compelled young men and women to defend our nation and its interests for more than two centuries. The celebration includes a formal Birthday Ball (when in garrison), the reading of a birthday message from the Commandant, the cutting of a birthday cake by the commanding officer, and the presentation of the first and second pieces of cake to the oldest and youngest Marines present. Whether on a stateside base or on a remote post abroad, on this day, every Marine who serves or who has served is entitled to the words, "Happy Birthday, Marine."
The Marines' Hymn
The most recognizable military hymn and the oldest official song in the U.S. Armed Forces, The Marines' Hymn is a reminder of the sacrifice and courage that Marines have shown on the battlefield. It is an important part of Marine Corps culture—every Marine can recite its three stanzas by heart.
From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By The United States Marines.
Every Marine is first and foremost, a rifleman. This becomes evident in the first days of Marine Corps Recruit Training, as all recruits since World War II have learned to recite the Rifleman's Creed.
This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…
My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...
My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!
Devil Dogs "Teufelhunden" – Nickname given to Marines by German soldiers for their relentless fighting during the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918.
Jarheads – Nickname given to Marines in reference to their high-and-tight haircuts.
Leathernecks – Nickname given to Marines who fought in the Revolutionary War, in reference to the leather collars seen on their uniforms. The leather collars were meant to protect against slashes from swords or sabers during a naval boarding action.
"No Marine Left Behind" – A mantra that speaks to teamwork, loyalty and brotherhood that exists between Marines. Marines will intentionally risk their own safety to aid wounded comrades, or to retrieve the remains of fallen comrades.
"Ooh-rah" – A motivational cry that signifies Marines are ready and eager to accomplish the mission before them.
"Every Marine a Rifleman" – A mantra that speaks to the willingness and ability of every Marine to engage the enemy in direct combat, regardless of their primary MOS.
"Improvise, Adapt and Overcome" – A mantra that symbolizes the flexibility, resourcefulness and quick decision-making ability found throughout the Marine ranks.
Semper Fidelis – Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883.