Remarks at a White House
Ceremony Marking the Anniversary of the Founding of the United States Marine Corps
November 10, 1986
and Mrs. Kelley, ladies and gentlemen of the Marine Corps, I'm honored to join
you for this traditional ceremony commemorating the founding of the Marine
Corps 211 years ago. Now, if I was talking about my own birthday, I would be
using a different term here and referring to this as the 172d anniversary of
your 39th birthday. [Laughter] But I wish I could be with every marine today to
say how grateful America is for all that the
Marines have given over the years and give today in the defense of freedom.
in these 211 years, whenever America has called, the Few and the Proud have
been there, in places like names with Belleau Wood
and the Argonne Forest, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Okinawa,
the Chosin Reservoir, KheSanh, and Grenada. From the halls of Montezuma to the
shores of Tripoli the men of the United
States Marine Corps have fought with a consistency of courage and skill
unparalleled in the history of man. Everywhere they've landed, those of the Eagle,
the Globe, and the Anchor have taken with them a spirit that all
the world knows today and respects. As Ernie Pyle, the legendary World
War II war correspondent wrote: ``The source of that
spirit is that a Marine just plain considers himself a better soldier than
anybody else.'' And he might have added the Marines have never given anyone any
reason to think differently. The Marines have always hit the beaches hard. They
never leave their men on the battlefield. And let me just say that's not only a
Marine tradition. In Southeast Asia, we will write no final chapters, we will
close no books, until we have a return of all who may be alive, a fullest
accounting of all those missing in action, and repatriation of the remains of
those who died serving our nation. Like the Marines, America will not leave its men
on the battlefield.
yes, whether raising the flag over IwoJima or in the daily duty of
guarding our Embassies around the world, the Marine Corps spirit has been an
inspiration to generations of Americans. And the Marine Corps strength has been
among our surest guarantees of America's security around the
world. The corps today is almost 200,000 strong -- a far cry from that band
that the corps' first commandant, Captain Samuel Nichols, first recruited at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia in the winter of 1775.
I saw for myself what the corps has become when I visited the Parris Island graduation this past
June, and the commander told me that today's young recruits are the best he's
ever seen. To me, that's saying a lot, because I know
a few past recruits. I could come pretty close to mustering a platoon of them
just by calling a Cabinet meeting.
Marine Corps motto is SemperFidelis,
``Always Faithful.'' It's a motto. It's also a tradition -- a tradition as old
as our blessed Republic and as young as the newest Marine. A
tradition of which all Americans are proud. And so, to all who are first
to fight for right and freedom, America today says thank you,
happy birthday, and God bless you. And I know there's a cake awaiting,
but also, there is a general awaiting -- General Kelley.
The President spoke at in the Rose Garden at
the White House. Following his remarks, there was a cake-cutting ceremony.