Hello, everyone, and happy 239th birthday to the United States Marine Corps. The Marines were born in the midst of the War for Independence, even before the United States was a country. On November 10, 1775 – on the corner of Philadelphia’s Water Street and Tun Alley – the first Leathernecks formed two battalions and swore to fight for freedom on land and sea. That’s a promise the Marines have been keeping ever since.
I want to congratulate all of you who have worn the Blues and who have forged with grit and determination a 239-year tradition of excellence. What began as a handful of patriots is now a global force for freedom and security.
During my travels as Secretary of State, I am privileged to meet at almost every stop with the Marines serving at our embassies abroad. I’ve spent time with officers in Jeddah and Kabul. I welcomed a new detachment to Vietnam. I shook hands with those keeping a watchful eye on our embassy in Baghdad. And each time, I’m inspired by their honor, courage, and commitment to Corps and Country.
Marines deploy all around the world to defend our citizens, territory, and values. In Afghanistan, their mission drew to a successful conclusion this year after 13 years of hard fighting. In South Sudan and Tripoli, they secured our facilities and safely evacuated embassy personnel. In Iraq, they continue to provide security in a time of enormous challenge. I salute Marines everywhere for their bravery and vigilance, in times of peace and in times of crisis.
Finally, on the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Fallujah, I would like to take a moment to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. This summer, I laid a wreath on the Guadalcanal Memorial overlooking Iron Bottom Sound. There I paid tribute to the Marines who gave everything to storm that beach and bring victory in the Pacific to the Allies during World War II. Whether they fought in Europe or the Pacific, Korea or Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, we will never forget their gallantry.
Every American has reason to be grateful for that long ago day when the Marine Corps was born. We celebrate the more than two centuries of courageous service that have followed. So, on behalf of the State Department, I wish all Marines a very happy 239th Birthday.
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