On behalf of the State Department and all our employees serving overseas and here at home, I am honored to extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes to the valiant men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps on their 246th birthday.
On this special occasion, I want to specifically acknowledge Marines who have served as Marine Security Guards at our embassies and consulates. Their role in ensuring the safe and secure conduct of U.S. diplomacy around the world is critical now, more than ever. Because of their dedication to duty, our diplomatic missions can operate safely and securely. At their core, the Marine Security Guards are the guardians of what we hold dear as Americans. Under normal circumstances, they provide invaluable security, safeguarding chief of mission personnel, and preventing the compromise of classified U.S. government information and equipment. When situations arise that require urgent action and response, the Marines are always ready to meet those challenges head-on, in any environment to protect and enable our missions worldwide.
Since 1948, Marine Security Guards have stood side-by-side with their State Department colleagues during periods of both tranquility and turmoil. I am personally grateful to what the more than 1,900 Marine Security Guards bring to every mission, every day. Reflecting on the past year, the Marines were indispensable providing continued uninterrupted security during the pandemic at over 180 U.S. embassies and consulates. During this time, Marines also deployed security augmentation to our diplomatic facilities in Lebanon, Mali, Turkey, Ethiopia, Eswatini, and Haiti. Most recently, Marines supported the closure of our embassy in Kabul and the follow‑on evacuation of more than 100,000 people from Afghanistan. To everyone who enters a diplomatic facility, Marines symbolize enduring American values of honor, courage, commitment, loyalty, and integrity. More than just a fixture standing in Post One, the Marine Security Guards at every U.S. embassy and consulate around the globe are the living embodiment of our American values.
As we celebrate, we must pause to recognize the many Marines that have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberty and freedom. We grieve the recent loss of our brave men and women in uniform, to include U.S. Marines in Kabul who gave the last full measure of devotion while selflessly helping others to safety, and the countless who were injured. As we celebrate the birth of our Marine Corps, we must also pause to honor their sacrifice. To every Marine, those currently in uniform, and those who have served in the past; we thank you for your selfless dedication, courage, and service to our beloved country. The Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis, or “Always Faithful.” Throughout their remarkable history, the Marines indeed, have always been faithful not only to our nation and their Corps, but also to the State Department, as an equal partner in the pursuit of diplomacy. Everyone in the State Department, myself especially, remains exceptionally grateful, and we salute and honor you as we reflect on this 246th birthday of our nation’s Marine Corps.
I know that many Marine Corps birthday balls and celebrations will be cancelled again this year in order to keep our teams safe and abide by COVID-19 precautions. I ask my State Department colleagues to take a moment for sober reflection on the important relationship between the Marine Corps and the State Department, and to thank the Marines who continue to serve our nation in every clime and place.
Happy 246th Birthday, Marines!