SAN ANTONIO – Thursday, Nov. 10 celebrates the 241st birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
In Military City USA, we do it big.
KENS 5's cameras were present at Thursday morning's celebration.
The Marine Corps is very traditional in what they do and what they do is very symbolic.
Along with a ceremony hundreds of years old, local marines are hoping this morning starts a new tradition: A birthday celebration in front of the San Antonio City Council.
The day before Veterans Day celebrates legacy and history of the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The title of 'Marine' is a very special title. Nobody can give it to you. You have to earn it and it is with you your entire life," said Major General Juan Ayala, USMC Ret. Director for the Office of Military Affairs of San Antonio.
Per tradition, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps send a message, and Marines are read a letter from General John A. Legeune, written in 1921.
General Legeune's message started this tradition.
Then, with every birthday comes a cake.
"The first piece of cake goes to the oldest marine signifying our history, signifying the glories of the past, signifying that symbolic bloodline of those warriors that have come before us and to thank them," Ayala said.
The oldest marine then passes the cake to the youngest, who symbolizes the future.
"When I hear the word, 'Marine', it brings a pride inside of me," said John A. Rodriguez, a Marine Corps Veteran.
Rodriguez served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps with one tour in Vietnam.
"As Marines, as any veteran, you go where you were sent, you do as you were told and you follow orders," said Rodriguez. "That's what's helped me in life. I'm already retired. That's what I do, help others."
Rodriguez speaks to Junior ROTC students across the city, educating young minds about the marines and their values: Honor, courage, and commitment.
When asked what Rodriguez tells eager students, he replied, "Be a patriotic individual because the red white and blue is a reminder not only of the freedoms that we enjoy today, but also to remind them that many Americans died for the freedoms we enjoy today."
Marines are gearing up for the Marine Corps Ball Thursday night, and they're preparing for celebrations Friday to honor the 250,000 veterans in San Antonio and millions more across the nation.
(© 2016 KENS)