WICHITA, Kan. -- The Marine Corps has a long-established set of customs and beliefs dating all the way back to the day the Corps was born in 1775. These beliefs lead to time honored traditions carried out every day. So, it is no surprise when one day out of the year, Nov. 10, all around the world, Marines gather in celebration of the Corps’ birth.
One such gathering took place at a nursing home in Wichita, Kan. Complete with a birthday cake cutting with the Mameluke sword, and the reading of Gen. John A. Lejeune’s birthday message. A small gathering took place to watch the long-standing ceremony take place.
The oldest Marine present, John McGee, 72, of Kiowa, Kan., a former Marine officer of 10 years who served in Vietnam.
After the reading of the birthday message, McGee cut the ceremonial cake using his sword from his days as a Marine Officer.
The first slice of cake was placed on a plate and handed to the eldest McGee, who lifted his portion of the cake to his mouth for tasting prior to the last step of passing it on to the youngest Marine present.
In a rare chance, the youngest Marine present also happened to be his son, 2nd Lt. Mark McGee.
“This is one of the most special moments of my life so far,” said Mark, who graduated Platoon Leaders Class in Quantico, Va., Aug. 21, 2010.
Shortly before the cake cutting ceremony and following in his father’s footsteps nearly 50 years later, Mark, took his oath and was commissioned by his father.
With shaking hands and some help from his wife, the elder McGee donned his son with his gold bar rank insignia and congratulated him on his achievements.
“To share in the cutting of the cake with my father and get pinned just moments before is the greatest bonding experience we have had,” Mark said. “I will continue to make him and my family proud, just like he did with us, as I begin my journey into the Marine Corps."
For the McGee family, the Marine Corps tradition has now been passed down to the next generation.