Marine Corps continues tradition
The 244th Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Ball was held by the Lance Corporal Shane L. Goldman, Mineola Detachment #1278 on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Mineola American Legion. The evening was infused with symbolism and history as all in attendance enjoyed laughter, dancing and camaraderie.
The annual birthday ball is a long standing tradition celebrated around the world during the week of Nov. 10 to honor the birth of the Marine Corps – a loyal, feared, revered and professional fighting force. It represents where the Marine Corps started and where it is now, giving a glimpse of the past, present and future. Also recognized and honored at the ball were all who have served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard.
It first began in 1921, when the 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune, issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921 summarizing the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines each year on Nov. 10 to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Soon after, Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. Over the years, the Birthday Ball has grown and taken on a life of its own.
Retired Texas Ranger, Lieutenant Kenny Ray, was the guest speaker and expounded on the bond shared between Marines.
“Relationships are founded on shared experiences; it’s what bonds people together. Marines have shared experiences that are powerful. When you get a bunch of Marines together and focused on the goal, amazing things are accomplished. They overcome insurmountable odds,” said Ray.
Marine Corps League Commandant Kelly Smith acknowledged the table of the fallen, missing or imprisoned that was set up at the entrance. Through the symbols on the table, those who have not returned were remembered. They are the men and women who have given their full measure of devotion to the nation.
The table was draped with a white cloth symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their countries call to arms. A single rose symbolized the blood that service members have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of the Unites States of America, and also to represent family and friends who keep the faith while awaiting their return.
A red ribbon symbolizes the love of country that inspires service members, and is worn on the lapel to demand the proper accounting of the missing. On the bread plate, a slice of lemon symbolizes the bitter fate of the missing, and salt symbolizes the tears shed by waiting family.
An inverted glass shows that the missing and fallen can not partake in the meal. A lit candle is the light of hope to illuminate the missing’s way home, and the empty chair symbolizes their absence.
The set table is a visual reminder that they are not forgotten.
Bagpipers Gordon Freeman and Ron Clower played “Amazing Grace” as many heads were bowed and tears fell. One lone bagpiper continued playing as he exited the building. The music was haunting as it drifted away into the stillness of the night.
Chaplain Wayne Bare came forward and spoke on the Ministries of Defense.
“They are in here tonight. All branches of the military, all judges, all Texas Rangers, all state troopers, all sheriff departments, all local police, all investigators, all firemen, all first responders, are the ministers of defense,” said Bare. He then read Romans 13 from the Holy Bible, stating again that these servants are ordained of God to do good. Before blessing the dinner and the night, Chaplain Bare thanked them for their service.
As a video was played of several veterans speaking and showing scenes of combat, the emotions that crossed the faces of the Marines in the room showed they felt the words spoken to their very core.
“We trust our fellow Marines implicitly. They are trained, prepared and willing to put it all on the line if a situation calls for it,” said one veteran.
“It’s with honor, courage, and commitment that we stand and face adversity. We pay the price because freedom is not free. It is with faith in something greater than ourselves, we stand boldly, determined to make a difference and to make our presence known. To that cause, we dedicate our lives,” said another.
Sergeant Jenni Biesheuvel, committee chair of the event, officiated the cake-cutting ceremony formalized in 1952 by Commandant Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. to represent the passing of tradition from generation to generation. The room was silent as the birthday cake was escorted to the center of the room and a brief history of the Marine Corps was read.
Commandant Smith unsheathed the sword and cut the cake. Traditionally, the cake is cut with the Mameluke sword as a reminder that the Marines are a band of warriors committed to carrying the sword so that the United States of America may live in peace. It gets its name from the cross hilt and ivory grip design, similar to swords used for centuries by the Ottoman warriors.
The first piece of cake was presented to guest of honor, Misty Goldman, sister of Lance Corporal Shane L. Goldman for whom the Mineola Detachment is named in honor of.
The second piece of cake was presented to the oldest Marine present, Private First Class James Krodel, signifying the honor and respect afforded to experience and seniority. PFC Krodel was born in 1926, and entered the Marine Corps on May 16, 1944. He served during World War II and was present at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The piece of cake was then passed to the youngest Marine present, Lance Corporal Brandon Baade, just as experienced Marines have nurtured and led young Marines to fill the ranks and renew the Corps for 244 years.
As the ceremony ended and the night came to a close, Sgt. Biesheuvel recognized the community supporters that made the event possible.
She also thanked representatives from Scouts Troop 385, Scouts Pack 385 and Law Enforcement Explorer Post 227 for their service at the Birthday Ball.
On Nov. 10, regardless of where Marines are stationed or deployed, you will always hear “Happy Birthday Marine.” The title “Marine” will be etched on their hearts until the day they die as they carry the torch that was lit 244 years ago. Once and forever, they are the United States Marines.