Photo Information

Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, cuts a piece of cake during a Marine Corps Birthday Ball ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex Nov. 3. Amos, along with the Marines of Marine Barracks Washington celebrated the 236th Marine Corps birthday with Marines in the New York area.

Photo by Cpl. Dengrier M. Baez

Let them eat cake: 8th & I Marines support dozens of birthday celebrations in the Capitol area

10 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Austin Hazard

Marines from Marine Barracks Washington participated in nearly two dozen cake-cutting events in November observing the 236th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In all, Marines helped serve up more than 150 pounds of the celebratory confection to thousands of leathernecks and devil dog devotees in the National Capital Region, including such notable guests as American actor Harvey Keitel of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Taxi Driver" fame, members of Congress, and the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller.

"It’s all about tradition and sharing our legacy," said Lance Cpl. Aaron Szabo, who is a member of one of the Barracks’ three cake escort teams. "Coming to the Barracks was an experience in and of itself, but I got to be a part of the tradition… and represent that to other agencies. That was a real experience."

For 90 years the Corps has celebrated its November 10 birthday by reading a birthday message from Lt. Gen. John A. Lejeune, 13th commandant of the Marine Corps, followed by the cake-cutting. This custom involves the oldest Marine present taking the first bite of cake and passing the slice to the youngest Marine present, representing the passing of tradition from one generation to the next. Both of these aspects of the ceremony are fulfilled by Barracks Marines in the various events they support.

"Our mission is to ensure the cake arrives where it is meant to be in a ceremonial manner and perform the cake-cutting ceremony or provide assistance to the staff when requested," said Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Davis, Barracks drill master. "These escorts we provide give us the opportunity to show our pride in who we are and share our tradition with others."

Sharing the tradition took the Marines to the Library of Congress, the Russell Senate Office Building, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

However, not every event the Barracks participated in was for government agencies, as the cake escort teams also served dessert at balls for the commandant, the Montford Point Marines Association and for a ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, which was hosted by Harvey Keitel for Marine units near the Big Apple.

"Every ceremony we’ve done, we’ve seen people happy and motivated," said Szabo. "That sense of camaraderie and tradition inspires us. The ball is about everyone being in one place, celebrating our pride in our organization and who we are."

The Barracks supports these ceremonies each year throughout November and sometimes into December for nearby requesting agencies and units.