CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Marines here supporting Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa celebrated the Marine Corps 228th birthday.
More than 500 Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen assembled for a morning cake-cutting ceremony at the camp cantina November 10.
The ceremony began as CJTF-HOA's Commander, Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, and the official party marched into position followed by the National Anthem.
As dictated by Marine Corps tradition, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A. Lejeune's message was read to the troops.
It began, "On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history."
Taking the advice of the 13th Commandant, the 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. M. W. Hagee's message addressed the warrior spirit of Marines serving in the Global War on Terrorism.
"This past year, Marines demonstrated once again that they are the most important entity on any battlefield. Lethal weapons and advanced technologies provide us unique advantages, but educated warriors ultimately determine victory in combat - not machines. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, our small unit leaders' skills, adaptability and flexibility produced victory on uncertain and at times chaotic battlefields. We proved once again the power of integrated ground-air-logistics teams as well as the importance of every Marine being first and foremost a rifleman.
"Our special spirit is evident not only in battle; it is evident in the faithful performance of demanding duties by countless Marines at home and abroad," Hagee continued in his message. "Every Marine makes a vital contribution to the ability of our Corps to project and sustain credible combat power. Moreover, the willingness and readiness of all Marines to accept and accomplish any mission is central to our success and a hallmark of our warrior ethos."
Gen. Hagee ended his message by saying, "In commemorating our 228th anniversary, remain true to the spirit of the occasion. Reflect on our fallen with deep respect, observe our traditions with justifiable pride, take care of one another, and of course, celebrate those special bonds that exist among United States Marines."
Following the reading of the 33rd Commandants Message, Brig. Gen. Robeson shared his experience and insight with the troops.
"Why do we read a dead man's message each year? Why do we gather every year to cut a cake?"
Roberson stated that, "Thirty-eight nations on this globe have a Marine Corps. None of them celebrate the way we do. We have three other absolutely spectacular services that we service with: the Army, Navy and Air force. They do not celebrate their birthdays the way we do.
"I don't know if I can explain that, except maybe they're right," he continued. "Maybe the Marine Corps has the best propaganda machine short of Stalin. There is probably some truth in that, we leverage every little bit we can get."
Gen. Robeson continued to explain how it is Marines that make the birthday celebration so unique.
"What I like about being a Marine is standing in front of me," Robeson explained. "What you should like about being a Marine is only one thing. The Marine Corps unlike all other organizations is not about the institution. It's not called the Marine Corps Hymn. It's called the Marines' Hymn. It's not about and organization, it's about the Marine. The most important thing that happens to an individual who becomes a Marine is earning right to bear the title, Marine.
"It's the reason we don't have special organizations in the Marine Corps," he explained. "It's the reason we don't have the elite. We are arrogant enough to think we are the elite."
Concluding his address to the troops by wishing them all a happy birthday, Gen. Robeson then took his place for the traditional cake cutting ceremony.
During this ceremony, Robeson cut a piece of the cake and passed it to the oldest Marine present, MGySgt. Mark C. Krumery. Krumery then passed it to the youngest Marine, Lance Cpl. Ronald E. Karl. The passing of the cake from oldest to youngest Marine, symbolizes the passing of knowledge, experience, history and tradition to the next generation.
As tradition requires, the ceremony ended with the playing of Anchors Away and the Marines' Hymn while the service members present stood at attention in remembrance and respect for their comrades, those who have gone before them and the Marine Corps.