BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Marine Corps League Detachment 1261, of Mena, celebrated the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps with a formal Ball at the Elks Lodge on Saturday. Approximately fifty were in attendance with Marines from Polk and Montgomery Counties.
The event was catered by Jason Goodner and crew with entertainment provided by the Richie Owens Band. The group enjoyed dinner and dancing and held several ceremonial practices.
The Marine Corps League is the only Congressionally chartered United States Marine Corps-related veterans organization in the United States. Its Congressional Charter was approved by the 75th U.S. Congress and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 4, 1937. The organization credits its founding — in 1923 — to legendary Marine Corps Commandant John A. Lejeune.
In honor of Commandment Lejeune, his ‘birthday message’ was read to the crowd. The message, written in 1921, reminds fellow Marines, and civilians, of what sets the Marines apart from other organizations. Part of his message reads:
“The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.”
Symbolizing the Passing of the Torch, the League held a Cake Cutting Ceremony where the first slice of cake was first given to the oldest Marine present, who then passed it to the youngest Marine present.
The League also presented the Elks Lodge with a plaque for their continued support of the Marine Corps League and the Toys for Tots program.