Ambassador Gingrich’s Keynote Remarks at the 244th Marine Corps Birthday Ball
November 16, 2019
Thank you, Gunnery Sergeant Hancock.
Ambassador Eisenberg, Ambassador Tom, distinguished guests, and Marines – good evening!
Newt and I thank you for the opportunity to be with you as we celebrate the 244th birthday of the United States Marine Corps!
Since before our nation’s founding, Marines have been a part of America’s great military history.
On November 10, 1775, just eight months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a committee of the Second Continental Congress drafted a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines to fight on land and sea.
The Marines proved their valor at Fort Nassau in 1776, seizing British gunpowder and cannons that were later used by George Washington’s Continental Army.
And from that moment on, from the shores of Tripoli to the Battle of Belleau Wood to the streets of Fallujah, the Marines have been “first to the fight!”
Semper Fidelis — “Always Faithful” — is more than a Marine Corps motto. It’s a sacred promise that the Marines have upheld for 244 years, contributing to the Corps’ reputation as the most loyal, feared, revered, and professional fighting force in the world.
That feeling rings true in this room as well. Today the men and women who protect our embassies and missions continue to personify America’s best values of integrity, courage, and service.
The many U.S. diplomats, family, and friends gathered here this evening demonstrate how deeply honored we are to be part of tonight’s celebration. Together the Marine Corps and the State Department have forged one of the most important and enduring relationships that exists between two U.S. government entities. We are one team, with one mission.
Please know that all of us deeply appreciate the safety and security you provide to our Tri-Mission, and to our country. We are proud and grateful for all that you do.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the Marine families who are here tonight, for their support and sacrifice. You are as much a part of the proud and illustrious Marine Corps legacy as our brave men and women in uniform.
And so, Marines, on behalf of President Trump, it is an honor for me to thank you for your service to our great nation and to wish you a Happy 244th Birthday!
Before I conclude, I am delighted to share a message from Secretary Pompeo, who cherishes the special bond between the Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of State.
Please allow me to share his birthday greeting with you:
On behalf of the Department of State and all our employees serving overseas and here at home, I wish the United States Marine Corps congratulations on your 244th birthday.
On this special occasion, I want to acknowledge all the Marines who have served as
Marine Security Guards and to praise your exemplary work at our embassies and consulates. Your role in ensuring the safe and secure conduct of U.S. diplomacy around the world is critical.
Marines enhance our ability to support and defend the Constitution, and you have proven yourselves an invaluable resource for protecting the American people through your unwavering professional integrity.
As our diplomatic efforts advance in a constantly-changing global dynamic, we can always count on a Marine standing at the ready to support our efforts.
Since 1948, Marine Security Guards have served side-by-side with diplomats at embassies and consulates, during periods of both tranquility and crisis.
But the relationship between the Department of State and the Marine Corps, in our common efforts to promote democracy around the world, goes back much further.
I cannot emphasize enough how much we value what the more than 1,900 Marine Security Guards bring to our posts. To everyone who enters a diplomatic facility, Marines symbolize American values of integrity, courage, loyalty, and commitment.
Marine Security Guards at a U.S. embassy or consulate do not just stand at Post One – they stand for America. You are truly America’s “Ambassadors in Blue,” and we are grateful for what you do and for your willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice, if necessary, to protect our great nation.
Our embassies and consulates share the Marine Corps’ mindset, “Every Clime and Place.” Our longstanding relationship is evidenced daily at 182 posts worldwide and on the front lines of our war zones.
As shown this year in our evacuation from U.S. Embassy Caracas and in the Marine security augmentation in Baghdad, Iraq, the Marines’ partnership in our diplomacy is paramount to our success.
Marines answered calls above and beyond in 2019, including for augmentations to Embassies Nairobi, Quito, and Port-au-Prince, and in the activation of the newest MSG Detachment in Matamoros, Mexico.
My own interactions with Marines during my travels have demonstrated first-hand to me your commitment to service, and remind me of President Ronald Reagan’s quote, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in this world; Marines don’t have that problem.”
In observation of this Marine Corps birthday, please accept on behalf of all American diplomats, the State Department’s genuine appreciation for the Marines’ great partnership and for your service to our nation.
Happy 244th Birthday, Marines, and Semper Fidelis!
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to the United States Marine Corps. Salute!
Have a wonderful evening. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America!
Callista L. Gingrich
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See