TN honors Marines for 228 years of faithful service
By SSgt. Jason Fischer
| | November 10, 2003
6TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Marines from the past gathered with today's Marines Nov. 10 during a ceremony in Nashville to honor the Corps' 228th Birthday. While other Marines around the globe were celebrating their heritage and culture, the state of Tennessee was honoring the Marine Corps through the Marines of Recruiting Station Nashville.
In a morning ceremony at downtown Nashville's War Memorial, which stands at the bottom of the State Capitol building, Tennessee Commissioner of Personnel, Randy Camp, presented a proclamation on behalf of Governor Phil Bredesen to RS Nashville Commanding Officer Maj. Ted Studdard. In the proclamation, the governor highlights colorful moments in Marine Corps history and recognizes the contributions the Corps has made to the world.
In a symbol of camaraderie, active duty Marines from RS Nashville stood with former Marines from the local area during the ceremony. The event featured all the pomp and circumstance of a Marine Corps birthday ceremony, with on-lookers gathering around to see what was taking place. Before them was a formation of Marines in "dress blues," colors flying proudly through a brisk morning wind and a traditional birthday cake cut with a shining NCO sword.
Commissioner Randy Camp said it was truly an honor to present the proclamation to the Marines.
"I've taken part in many military events, but never one to this degree, either in importance or emotion," Camp said. "Having the honor to stand there as a public servant with those who have offered their lives to protect our country and our way of life was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever encountered."
Joining Camp was Tennessee Director of Homeland Security, Marine MajGen. Jerry Humble (ret.). General Humble took his current post upon retiring from 33 years of military service in January.
According to Sgt. Robert Alvarez, operations clerk for RS Nashville who was one of the cake escorts, the ceremony helped redefine his reasons for joining the Marine Corps in the first place.
"It was an honor to represent all the Marines, past and present, in celebrating our birthday," he said. "The fact that the city of Nashville supports the Marine Corps the way it does reminds me of why I joined, to support and defend the great people of the United States."
The ceremony was especially moving for Camp, whose father served in the Army under General George Patton, and whose six uncles were all career Sailors. He said he believes the Marine Corps' impact on the nation is undeniable.
"They (his family) have always told me how special the Marines were to them all," he said. "If only a fraction of society were able to experience the fellowship, love, brotherhood and camaraderie of the Corps, then this country and world would be a far better place."
But for some of the Marines, the true joy came from standing side-by-side with the Marines who came before them; those Marines who no longer wear a uniform.
"We learn Marine Corps history from the time we join the delayed entry program and we continue to study history as we progress through the ranks," Alvarez explained. "But to stand next to veterans of great battles is an honor - these guys lived it. The best is to hear that they have many of the same experiences that we do."
Remembering how the Marine Corps has served in the past coupled with a commitment to serving with that same distinction in the future will help the Corps to stay a vital part of the nation's heritage and perhaps take part in ceremonies like this one for at least 228 more years.