November 10, 2004, marked the Marine Corps'
229th birthday. Marines across the world gathered to celebrate
the Corps' gallant history, crucial future, and the significance
of holding the title of United States Marine.
Montevideo, the U.S. Marines Detachment celebrated by hosting
their annual Birthday Ball, a traditional function that
dates back to 1923 when in the Marine Barracks at Fort Mifflin,
Pennsylvania, a "formal" dance was staged to celebrate
their 128th Anniversary. The first formal Birthday Ball
took place in Philadelphia in 1925. Guests included the
Commandant, the Secretary of War, and a host of statesmen
and elected officials.
Over the years the annual Marines Birthday
Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952
the Commandant, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized
the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances.
For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first
piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine
present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine.
This year's Marine Birthday Ball was dedicated
"to our brothers and sisters fighting for the freedoms
that allow us to be here tonight".