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Grim reaper
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In the shadow of the Iraq War, more than 1,000 former and active duty marines convened at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Tuesday to celebrate the 230th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The 18th annual celebration of its kind, was just like any other, except for the rising anti-war sentiment around the nation.

"This started off as a remembrance between six friends ... of fellow Marines who had fallen during the Vietnam War," said Marine Coleman Nee, a veteran from Desert Storm.

"Before long, each person was bringing a friend, and within 18 years, it had turned into what you see today. This is a sort of a sanctuary for them, since most of these guys have had really hard war experiences.
Here, they are welcomed home by family."

To symbolize the unity among all ranks and ages, Sgt. Major Alan cut a birthday cake and presented the first slice to the oldest present Marine, World War II veteran John Murdock. As is tradition, Murdock then passed the cake to the youngest serving Marine, Pvt. Edward Garvin.*

The Marines' celebration recognized not only the current soldiers fighting and retired Marines but also served to remind Marines what it means to bear their titles.

"Regardless of where Marines are, wherever there are two or more gathered, they are going to get together around the 10th of November and celebrate this birthday," Gen. Michael Hagee said. "Why are we here? Because we're good. We are a breed of heart. Some may call us strange and extreme, but we don't care."

Hagee said the Marine Corps has a reputation for the intense amount of work that goes into training. From an arduous boot camp to being the first part of the military called on to fight, the Marines are proud to call themselves "the few and the proud."

"It's something we hold very close to ourselves to come out here and celebrate this birthday," Staff Sgt. James Sobey said.

Speakers at the birthday celebration expressed an overwhelming sense of pride and dedication, both at the microphone and at the lunch tables. Bagpipes played and drums boomed as Maj. Shane Tomko, director of this year's event, told the Marines to "stop, reflect and remember what you did to deserve that title."

*sworn into USMC 10 Nov 2004

Nice event as always and CMC very approachable too. Inspiring words as well...
 

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Major Tomko is my RS Commander. My fellow Poolees and myself had the honor of having the Commandant re-swear us into the DEP. It was possibly one of the most moving things I have ever experienced. Meeting the Commandant was a distinct honor for us.
 
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