NEW YORK -- To many Marines, there is no greater fraternity than the United States Marine Corps. But to many active duty and former Marines, there is another organization that may be just as good.
The Marine Corps League is an organization of Marines and former Marines who served honorably, according to the Marine Corps League Westchester County Detachment #254's website. "It aims to perpetuate the traditions and spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps," continues the text, "through the continuous association of Marines who served...at any time, in war or peace."
League members have worked towards those goals for more than half a century. Founded by Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune in 1923, the Marine Corps League was chartered as a military service, not-for-profit organization by an Act of Congress on August 4, 1937. Today, it boasts a membership of almost 50,000 of honorably discharged, active duty, reserve and retired Marines, all of whom served in the Corps for at least 90 days.
"It's a Marine Corps fraternity," said Lu Caldara, paymaster for the Westchester County Detachment. "We have the opportunity to associate with Marines of all eras," he said. "Wherever we travel throughout the United States, we know there's a Marine Corps League locally."
Marines who join the League can then affiliate with a detachment of their choice. According to Caldara, local affiliation is up to the individual.
"Many detachments have different personalities, activities and programs," Caldara said. "Choose a group you feel comfortable with."
The Westchester County Detachment hit their 40th anniversary in February. According to Caldara, who is a charter member, the det is the largest in New York State. Marines in New York City can also find league detachments in the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.
League Membership is open to Marines of any rank, gender and age. Once a member, Marines continue to serve the community through offering scholarships, running youth programs, or helping out other Marines and their families. They also support active duty Marines in any way they can.
"We organized our 'We Care' program to help our active duty Marines," said Caldara. "During Vietnam, we sent tons of packages to our troops," he said. "Now we're sending packages overseas to Marines in the Middle East."
"It's all in the eye of the beholder," said Caldera. "But I can't think of any disadvantages to being a member of the League."
For more League information, visit www.usmc.mil/marinelink/websites.nsf/MarineCorpsLeague.