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Area Marines mark founding of Corps

No major victory had happened, and the “Few and the Proud” arestill overseas, but that did not stop Marines all over the worldfrom celebrating the Corps’ 235th birthday on Wednesday.

The Marines of Southwest Mississippi would not be left out.

“Marines all over the world are going to read General Lejeune’smessage,” said retired Lt. Col. Jim O’Rourke. “If there are twoMarines in an embassy, one’s going to read it to the other.”

What O’Rourke spoke of was a tradition, which marks a specialday for Marines.

John A. Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, issuedMarine Corps Order No. 47 in 1921. In his letter, Lejeune talksabout the accomplishments, history, tradition and mission of theCorps. He also instructed that his letter be read every Nov. 10 tohonor the founding of the Marines.

The Marines of Southwest Mississippi have been honoring thatorder since they began 10 years ago. Then, the birthday celebrationconsisted of only 30 members, but the event has grown to includemore than 100 area Marines.

The evening at the Fernwood Country Club consisted ofremembering the past.

“It’s a time of reflection about what the Marine Corps means,”said retired Marine Andy Hoeniges. “The traditions are sorich.”

Fellow Marines discussed their service to their country.

They talked about fighting in some of the toughest battlesAmerica has ever seen. They also joked about their dreaded days onParris Island, the 8,095 acres of land in South Carolina where somenew recruits go to become soldiers.

The group also listened to a message from current commandant,Gen. James F. Amos, who further spoke of Marine Corpsaccomplishments and wished Marines well in every area of theworld.

“To the Marines and sailors deployed overseas, to those trainingand preparing for their next deployment and to the warriors who nolonger wear our uniform … we honor your selfless service to thenation,” said Amos in his letter.

The Marines would not only have their cake Wednesday evening,but they would eat it too.

Area Marines carried out a cake-cutting tradition that wasestablished in 1952. The senior Marine present cut and presented apiece of cake to the youngest Marine in attendance.

While there was birthday cake and it was a day of remembrance,the night felt like a family reunion to some.

“It’s a lifelong brotherhood,” said Jerry Hoeniges, a Brookhavennative who attended the event with his brother and fellow MarineAndy.

Like most birthdays, the event would end with a song and cheers.In this case, the “Marine Corps Hymn” replaced “HappyBirthday.”

“OohRah,” shouted the Marines.