From the Marine flag that adorns so many porches and flagpoles across our communities to the United States flag that’s hoisted on the Marine Corps War Memorial in our Nation’s capital, the symbols of our Corps represent the fighting spirit of every Marine.
Our symbols represent not only our illustrious history, but our unbreakable bond, with the Marines we fight alongside today and every Marine who has ever fought in our uniform. These symbols and uniforms add even more pride to a warrior class that is itself a symbol of our Nation’s resolve.
To put on the Marine uniform is to don more than two and a half centuries of fight and feat. It is the cloth that threads all that Marines have faced before with all that Marines prevail over today. The uniforms Marines wear connect them to the timeless battles won long ago and the historic victories that continue to advance our Nation forward.
The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, or “Cammies,” is the standard uniform Marines wear in garrison, during training, and while deployed overseas. Marines primarily wear cammies in the green print known as “Woodlands,” but when deployed in desert surroundings, Marines wear a tan and brown “Desert” variation, and in cold-weather environments, the white and gray-patterned design is available. Each of these patterns utilizes the MARPAT (Marine Pattern) design, formed by small rectangular pixels that provide better camouflage in natural settings.
There are common threads woven in the flag of our Nation and the dress blue uniform of our Marines. Sewn from the ideals America stands for and the resolve our Marines fight with, this is the only uniform in the U.S. military designated to include the red, white, and blue colors of the American flag. The distinctive dress blue uniform Marines wear represents the values Marines live, and has origins dating back to the American Revolution. Dress blues are worn for many events, including ceremonies with foreign officials, visits with U.S. civil officials, and formal social functions attended in an official capacity. Wherever Marines wear this uniform, they do so proudly, standing united as the moral fiber that forms the fabric of our Nation.
The promotion from lance corporal to corporal is a momentous one for all enlisted Marines, as it means they have been trusted to serve our Nation as Noncommissioned Officers, a designation that allows them to add the legendary "Blood Stripe" to their uniform. Traditionally, Officers, Staff Noncommissioned Officers, and Noncommissioned Officers of the Marine Corps have worn this scarlet red stripe on their dress blue trousers to commemorate the courage and tenacious fighting of the men who fought in the Battle of Chapultepec in September of 1847. Today, the blood stripe symbolizes honor and our Nation's eternal gratitude for all fallen Marines.
There is no better symbol for the purpose we serve than the emblem every Marine earns: The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, which has represented the title every Marine has earned since 1868. The eagle represents the proud Nation we defend. It stands at the ready with our coastlines in sight and the entire world within reach of its outstretched wings. The globe represents our worldwide presence, impact, and reputation as a fighting force that wins on behalf of our Nation's people and progress. The anchor points both to the Marine Corps naval heritage and its ability to access any battleground across any coastline in the world. Together, the eagle, globe, and anchor symbolize our commitment to defend our Nation and advance its ideals.
Though now designated for ceremonial duty, the swords our Marine Officers carry are the oldest weapons still in service in the United States Armed Forces and represent the Marine Corps’ rich legacy of fighting by those who our Nation trusts to win. Officers carry the Mameluke Sword, which was originally given to Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon in 1805 by a Mameluke chieftain in North Africa. Lt O’Bannon and his Marines marched across 600 miles of North African desert to rid the “shores of Tripoli” of pirates and rescue the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia. By 1825, all Marine Officers carried the Mameluke Sword in recognition of this historic battle—the Marine Corps’ first on foreign soil.
Adopted in 1859, the NCO Sword is carried by Marine Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) and Staff Noncommissioned Officers (SNCOs). Used for ceremonial purposes, the M1859 NCO Sword was bestowed to NCOs and SNCOs by the 6th Commandant, Colonel John Harris, in recognition of their leadership in combat.
Marines have carried several different flags since the American Revolution, but today's scarlet standard has been flown since 1939. Wherever it is displayed, in ceremonies and in communities, it serves as a distinctive symbol of the Marine fighting spirit—born from our American spirit. The flag features the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblems in gray and gold with an eagle carrying a ribbon in its beak that bears the motto Semper Fidelis. Scarlet and gold were established as the official colors of the Corps as early as 1925, and the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem has appeared as part of Marine Corps iconography since 1868. The Marine Corps flag is flown at ceremonies and installations, presented by the All-Marine Color Guard, and hangs in the offices of the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
An unmistakable monument that graces our Nation’s “Land of Monuments,” the Marine Corps War Memorial is a towering symbol of national gratitude to all Marines and those who’ve fought alongside them. Depicting the flag-raising scene on Iwo Jima during World War II that was immortalized by Joe Rosenthal’s most famous photograph, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of our Nation since 1775. Then and now, this scene symbolizes the fighting spirit of Marines and the collective resolve of our entire Nation. More than a Marine symbol, it is a national symbol recognized around the world, and today serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring Marines who possess the collective willingness to fight and determination to defeat any and all adversaries on behalf of our Nation.