Gathered from different Wikipedia Articles: Captain Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of Continental Marines on 10 November 1775 in Philadelphia as naval infantry to serve as an infantry unit aboard naval vessels and was responsible for the security of the ship and its crew by conducting offensive and defensive combat during boarding actions and defending the ship’s officers from mutiny. During naval engagements Marine sharpshooters were stationed in the fighting tops of the ships’ masts, and were supposed to shoot the opponent’s officers, naval gunners, and helmsmen. The Continental Marines were the Marine force of the American Colonies during the American Revolutionary War. Formed by the Continental Congress at the above date, they were disbanded in 1783.
In all, there were 131 Colonial Marine officers and probably no more than 2,000 enlisted Colonial Marines. Though individual Marines were enlisted for the few American naval vessels, the organization would not be re-created until 1798. Despite the gap between the disbanding of the Continental Marines and the current organization, the United States Marine Corps celebrates November 10, 1775 as its birthday.
The Origin of the Marine Corps Ball
From usmcpress.com: The 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A. On November 1, 1921 Lejeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, (Series 1921). This order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps.
Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Quantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.
The first “formal” Birthday Ball took place on Philadelphia in 1925. Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War, and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, Gen. Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.
Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, Gen. 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. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant’s birthday message to the Corps.
The POW/MIA Ceremony
There is no Marine-specific ceremony of part of the ceremony. There is only the National League of Families Fallen Comrade script, table setup and ceremony. For complete details, click here. And click here for other relevant POW/MIA information.
2012-Specific Information/Support: http://www.marines.mil/News/Messages/MessagesDisplay/tabid/13286/Article/128045/2012-marine-corps-birthday-celebration-support.aspx