By Lance Cpl. Robert W. Beaver , MCRD San Diego
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO (Nov. 17, 2006) -- The 231st Marine Corps birthday was celebrated Nov. 9 on the Shepherd Memorial Drill Field here during the annual cake cutting ceremony.
Marines and sailors have gathered in this time-honored tradition since the cake cutting ceremony�s inception in 1951 by the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd.
For more than 230 years, the Marine Corps has proven itself to be the nation�s force in readiness through its successes in combat, from its first amphibious landing in the Bahamas to the desolate battlefields of Iraq.
The ceremony opened with an invocation and continued with the traditional reading of the Gen. John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, birthday message.
Since 1921, Gen. Lejeune�s inspirational birthday message has been read each year during the Corps� birthday celebration.
�His message motivates me,� said Sgt. Kyle R. Ledlie, fiscal chief for Recruit Training Regiment. �The birthday is an opportunity for Marines of all ranks to come together to build camaraderie. With our busy schedules sometimes we forget that we are all Marines and a part of the same family.�
A uniform pageant followed the birthday message and featured uniforms from the Continental Marines to the warriors of present day.
The uniform pageant brought back memories for some as the hands of time were turned back to revisit the accomplishments set forth by the forefathers of the Marine Corps.
Jim Batchelder, a former Marine who attended the ceremony, took an interest in the pageant. He said when he saw the different uniforms they helped him remember his service in the Corps.
Brigadier Gen. Angie Salinas, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region, gave her birthday message and invited Marines to recommit themselves to the Corps� values of honor, courage and commitment.
After her address, Salinas cut the cake with a Mameluke sword and presented the first piece to the oldest Marine present, Col. Mark Callihan, chief of staff for the depot and WRR.
Callihan then presented the next piece of cake to the youngest Marine present, Lance Cpl. Townsend Milligan, quality control monitor. This tradition signifies the passing of tradition and knowledge from older to newer generations of Marines.
�It was an honor to be a part of the cake cutting ceremony during my first birthday celebration,� said Milligan, a 19-year-old native of Oakland, Calif.
Following 231 years of selfless service and sacrifices, the Marine Corps continues to renew its commitment through its traditions like that of the annual birthday celebration. This celebration brought Marines from the past and present together for hopes of another 231 years of remaining the world�s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps.