Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Marines


It is the 233rd birthday of the Marine Corps.
Did you know our Service began in a tavern?
It explains a lot about Marines if you stop and think about it.
My friend sent this article to me.
The original can be found at this site.


At dawn in Phila., homage to the first Marine

By Peter Mucha
Inquirer Staff Writer

Once a year, few are the proud who remember:
The Philadelphian who founded the Marines is buried here.
Every Nov. 10 for more than a decade, a simple sunrise ceremony has taken place at the unlikely site where Samuel Nicholas is buried:
The Quaker meetinghouse at Fourth and Arch Streets.
The gravesite is so little publicized, even those who paid homage this morning were unsure where it was.
Having an almost-unknown tomb of a well-known soldier is remarkable for a city that worships its history makers.
About 6:40 a.m., hearty chanting heralded the approach of a contingent of men and women.
"Back in 1775, our Marine Corps came alive!" was one of the lines they bellowed.
The cadence grew louder, as about 48 souls, most of them in sweatsuits, jogged quickly through the Arch Street gates, just a block west of the Betsy Ross House.
Then they stood silently, on a herringbone brick walkway west of the long two-story brick building, under a skeletal canopy of towering trees.
A reading commemorated the birth of the Marine Corps in Philadelphia, authorized by the Continental Congress, 233 years ago on this date.
That it falls the day before Veterans Day is just coincidence.
A wreath of red and white carnations was placed on a wire stand, followed by a minute or two of silence.
Then the group was off, except for Capt. Phillip Peche, 31, who stayed behind to explain.
"I think it's great to introduce the newest members of the corps to the history," he said.
The 48 paying homage - who ran the 3.5 or so miles from the University of Pennsylvania - included about 40 ROTC cadets from Penn and Villanova, as well as three second lieutenants and a gunnery sergeant from Quantico, Va.
The ROTC program he helps manage, he said, is officially a Navy program, but cadets can opt to join the Marines.
The precise whereabouts of Nicholas' remains were a mystery, he said.
On the only obvious grave marker is this inscription: "BENEATH THIS STONE LIES THE BODY OF DOCT EDWARD OWEN, WHO DESIRED WHILE LIVING THAT AFTER HIS BURIAL HE MIGH NOT BE DISTURBED."
Nicholas is believed to have been buried on the east side of building, Nancy Gibbs, the Friends meetinghouse director, said later this morning.
"We don't know exactly where," she said.
Quakers don't subscribe to fancy headstones, and as cemeteries go, it was anything but exclusive, she said.
As many as 20,000 people - including thousands of casualities of the late 18th-century yellow fever epidemic - may have been buried on the property, which was chartered as a cemetery by William Penn in 1701.
Yes, the meetinghouse, finished in 1811, was built atop remains, she said.
"They're still here," she said. "They're under our feet. They're under our parking lot. They're under our walkways."
Nicholas was a member of the Quakers, renowned for their pacifist views, until he decided to fight for the country's independence and started recruiting at Tun's Tavern to form the Marines, according to accounts.
Nicholas was expelled - Quakers call it being "read out of meeting," Gibbs said, but his remains were still buried there - a fact that has remained surprisingly little noted.

1 comment:

Kat said...

Happy Birthday!