Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn

Seventy-nine years ago the Marine Corps was preparing to add to its legend with bloody fighting for islands with strange names that soon would become enshrined in American history.  Kate Smith, the songstress of the American war effort in World War II, sang the above tribute to the Marines on February 19, 1942 at the start of the War.  Interestingly enough she sang the pre-1929 version of the Marines’ Hymn, the version that she, and most of her audience were most familiar with, prior to this sequence from the 1948 Sands of Iwo Jima imprinting the new version on the American psyche: (more…)

Published in: on August 28, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Kate Smith Sings the Marines’ Hymn  
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To the Shores of Tripoli

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the First and Second Barbary Wars fought in 1801-1805 and 1815, which is a shame.  They were filled with enough derring do to fill an Errol Flynn movie.  If Mr. Flynn had made a movie set in that period, a great role for him to have played would have been that of Marine First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, the man whose exploit caused the line “To the Shores of Tripoli”, to be inserted in the Marines’ Hymn.

The Barbary Pirates were muslim corsairs who operated out of North African ports, primarily Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers.  Since the 16th century these bandits had been preying upon European shipping, with European nations sometimes fighting them, but often paying them protection money to be left alone.  The young American republic attempted initially to have peaceful relations with the Barbary States controlled by the pirates.  When that proved futile, President Thomas Jefferson decided to fight.  The war was waged on the sea by American naval squadrons.

In 1805 one of the most colorful characters in American history, William Eaton, a former US consul at Tunis, hatched a plan to topple the government of the Barbary State, Tripoli, and reinstall Hamet Caramanli as Pasha of Tripoli.  Assembling a motley force of 500 Greek, Arab and Berber Mercenaries, and 8 Marines at Alexandria, Egypt, he embarked upon this unlikely adventure on March 8, 1805.

Leading the Marines was First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon.  Born in the year of his nation’s birth, 1776, O’Bannon was a Virginian and had been a member of the Corps since 1801.  His Marines were the only portion of his force that Eaton could rely upon and  were instrumental in putting down attempted mutinies by some of the mercenaries during the 50 day trek across the Sahara. (more…)

Halls of Montezuma

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced, to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are…You should see the group about me as I write- dirty, bearded, their clothing food-spattered and filthy- they look like the castoffs of creation. Yet they have a sense of loyalty, generosity, even piety greater than any men I have ever known. These rugged men have the simple piety of children. You can’t help loving them, in spite of their language and their loose sense of private property. Don’t ever feel sorry for a priest in the Marines. The last eight weeks have been the happiest and most contented in my life.

 Father Kevin Kearney, 1st Marine Division Chaplain, Korean War

Something for the weekend.  The Marines’ Hymn.  The music is from an 1867 French tune by Jacques Offenbach, with the lyrics written by that most prolific author Anonymous.  It is the most well-known of the service songs and captures well the spirit of the Marines.

Published in: on May 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Halls of Montezuma  
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Belated Happy 240th Birthday to the Corps!

 

 

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

President Ronald Reagan, letter to Lance Corporal Joe Hickey, September 23, 1983

On November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress passed this resolution authored by John Adams:

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battalions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

At the various birthday celebrations by the Marine Corps today, the song given pride of place will of course be the Marines’ Hymn.  The oldest of the official songs of a branch of the US military, the composer of the Marines’ Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”.  The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859. (more…)

Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Belated Happy 240th Birthday to the Corps!  
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Marines’ Hymn

Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.

Ronald Reagan

The oldest of the official songs of branches of the US military, the composer of the Marines Hymn is unknown, but is thought to have been a Marine serving in Mexico during the Mexican War, hence the “Halls of Montezuma”.  The music is taken from the Gendarmes Duet from the Opera Genevieve de Brabant, written by Jacques Offenback in 1859. (more…)

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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