Passing the torch from old to new generation

21 Nov 2006 | Pfc. Joseph D. Day

The oldest and youngest Marines present stood at attention as the American and Marine Corps flags are marched in and National Anthem played, marking the 231st birthday of the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps has proudly maintained many traditions and legacies since its inception at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia on Nov.10, 1775.  These traditions are symbolically transferred from one generation of Marines to the next through the passing of a single piece of cake from the oldest to the youngest Marine present.  This year, Sgt. Karl J. Katz, 41, passed the cake to Pfc. Shawn D. Fredenburg, 18, during Headquarters Battery, 10th Marine Regiment’s 2nd annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City, Nov. 17.

“This is my first ball that I have been to,” said Fredenburg, the Oceola, Ind., native.  “I checked into the unit this week and they told me that I was going to be in the ceremony on Friday.  I was nervous, because I didn’t know what to expect.

“When the sergeant handed me the piece of cake it felt like the old generation was passing the torch to the new generation of Marines coming in,” he continued.  “It makes it special for me because the Marine Corps is my life now.”

For many, this wasn’t their first birthday ball.  Katz has served for 12 years, and is currently the facility chief for 10th Marine Regiment.

“Here today, there are Marines from all over,” Katz said.  “Headquarters Battery is made up of men and women from many different units.”

Marines stationed around the world celebrate Nov. 10, as the birth of their Corps.  This celebration brings all Marines, young and old, together to honor and celebrate the great accomplishments of both past and present while preparing for the future.

“This characterizes the Marines,” Katz said.  “In this room there are Marines from past and present.  It shows what the Corps had, and what it has to look forward to.”

The ceremony came to a close with the retiring of the cake and the flags, the celebration continued into the night with Katz and Fredenburg joining their fellow Marines to celebrate the history of the Corps.