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 245th birthday.
During these trying times, I want to thank all the Marines serving as Marine Security Guards and those Marines who continue to support our embassies and consulates. It should come as no surprise that these brave men and women were not afforded a telework option during this pandemic. They continued to stand their posts, often understaffed, to ensure the safe and secure conduct of U.S. diplomacy around the world. The Marines continue to enhance our ability to support and defend the Constitution and have proven themselves time and again as the ready force to protect the American people.
The Department’s partnership with the Marine Corps dates back to 1805 and the fight against the Barbary pirates and Battle of Derna, the first successful U.S. overseas military action. In 1948, the first Marine Security Guards stood side-by-side with their State Department colleagues and have continued to do so for over 70 years. I can’t emphasize enough how much we value what nearly 2,000 Marine Security Guards continue to bring to our diplomatic security posture at the missions they serve. These Marines are deployed worldwide and operate 24/7, 365 days a year providing security to the diverse staff who operate these facilities. The first person our employees and visitors see when they enter an embassy or consulate is that Marine Security Guard on Post One; they are also the last person who is seen when our employees and visitors depart. We remain extremely grateful for what you do and deeply respectful of your sacrifices to protect our great nation.
We work hand and hand with the Marine Corps “…in every clime and place” to conduct diplomacy and promote democracy throughout the world. As experienced in our closure of U.S. Consulate Chengdu, our partnership is key to our success. Marines answered the call above and beyond in 2020 to include security augmentations to Missions Jerusalem, Port-au-Prince, Managua, and Beirut, as well as the latest detachment activations in Tijuana and Guadalajara, Mexico. These achievements exemplify our joint determination and mission success.
One of the highlights of my travels around the world is the opportunity to meet the Marines that serve our embassies and consulates. During these meetings, I am reminded of a quote from Father Kevin Keaney who served as the 1st Marine Division Chaplain during the Korean War who said: “You cannot exaggerate about the Marines, they are convinced to the point of arrogance that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth – and the amusing thing about it is that they are.”
Due to current world events, I know that many Marine balls will be cancelled this year but I know that you will follow your tradition of sharing a birthday cake. I ask my State Department colleagues to take the time to show your appreciation and thank the Marines who continue to serve our nation in every clime and place.
Happy 245th Birthday, Marines!
Michael R. Pompeo