Above / Servicemen ceremoniously hoisted the U.S. Marine Corps flag along the Riverwalk to mark the 248th birthday of the Marines.
It’s long been tradition that at 9AM every November 10, local members of the Naperville Marines, past and present, will raise its flag in observance of the armed service’s birthday. Formerly in front of the Naperville Municipal Center and more recently at Exchange Club Veterans Plaza along the Riverwalk, the tradition continues, only this year the ceremony was set for 10AM.
Marines, public officials, family and friends again gathered for a brief tribute to all who have served during the 248-year history of the U.S. Marine Corps.
During the ceremony, the Marines drew attention to the symbolism of the red U.S. Marine Corps flag., noting that the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor are featured in the official emblem. The Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fidelis,” means always faithful.
Thanks to a memorable story that dates back to World War I, the U.S. Marines have an unofficial mascot, the English Bulldog. On occasion, Naperville’s representative mascot has been present during the ceremony.
For 2023, a French Bulldog named Ralph was in attendance during the building of the framework for the Vietnam Wall of Remembrance, an idea created by Veteran Marine Wayne Fischer, to stand for “comradeship, memories, families left behind, coming home and education” as well as to “always remember those that passed away due to their service in Vietnam.”
A brief history of the Naperville Marines
Though the Naperville Marines’ first party was one of simple origins held the basement of the late Drew Mathews, Lt. Col. USMC (retired), their birthday party grew and had been the Holiday Inn’s premiere event back in 1992 when the property first reopened under the Holiday Inn banner. After a brief hiatus at other event venues while the hotel property was renovated to another brand, the Marines returned to the property that reopened as the Marriott Hotel in Naperville in 2012.
Subsequently, the annual Nov. 10 event has found a home at various locations. Yet, this year the 50th event (photos by James Hoch) was held earlier on Sat., Nov. 4, to a sold-out audience, again at the Marriott Hotel.
During festivities, a formalized cake-cutting ceremony and other observances provide plenty of polish and tradition. For instance, a Mameluke sword is used to cut the birthday cake, recognizing that Marines are a band of warriors, serving so that our nation may live in peace. The first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Other traditions follow.
In addition, one of the highlights is a solemn reading of the Commandant’s birthday message to all members of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Anyone who has ever attended the Naperville Marines’ Birthday Ball, no matter what date it occurs, knows November 10 is a unique holiday for all men and women who have served or currently serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Their always-memorable birthday party is a special evening of heartfelt camaraderie to celebrate honor and love of country. The evening also attracts many veterans who have served other armed forces as well as friends who have never served the military who appreciate their service.
Finally, as noted in 1945 by Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, and often quoted by the big-hearted Marines, “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
Message from Eric C. Smith, General U.S. Marine Corps, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, November 10, 2023
Remember… Veterans Day always is Nov. 11
Veterans Day is Nov. 11. In Naperville, the annual Veterans Day observance historically since 1989 has been held at 11AM on Nov. 11, at Veterans Park on Gartner Road.
For 2023, the observance will be moved to the Vietnam Wall of Remembrance along the Riverwalk near the Grand Pavilion and the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873.
Remember “11-11-11.” That’s 11AM, Sat., Nov. 11, 2023. Peace.
Donations for Toys for Tots appreciated by Dec. 16, 2023
Families and friends are encouraged to donate unwrapped toys (no stuffed animals…just safe toys) for youngsters in support of helping less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas. Kindly donate by Dec. 16 at a collection site where you see the Toys for Tots logo.