Marine Corps Motto & Slogans

"Semper Fi"

The Marine Corps adopted the motto "Semper Fidelis" in 1883. Prior to that date three mottoes, all traditional rather than official, were used. The first of these, antedating the War of 1812, was "Fortitudine." The Latin phrase for "with courage," it was emblazoned on the brass shako plates worn by Marines during the Federal period. The second motto was "By Sea and by Land," taken from the British Royal Marines "Per Mare, Per Terram." Until 1848, the third motto was "To the shores of Tripoli." Inscribed on the Marine Corps colors, this commemorated Presley O'Bannon's capture of the city of Derna in 1805. In 1848, this was revised to "From the halls of the Montezumas to the shores of Tripoli."

"Semper Fidelis" signifies the dedication that individual Marines have to "Corps and country," and to their fellow Marines. It is a way of life. Said one former Marine, "It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute...Marines pride themselves on their mission and steadfast dedication to accomplish it."

(The source of the above text is The National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center. To visit their web site, Click here....

"The Blood Stripe"

Marine Corps tradition maintains that the red stripe worn on the trousers of officers and noncommissioned officers, commonly known as the "blood stripe," commemorates those Marines killed storming the castle of Chapultepec in 1847. Although this belief is firmly embedded in the traditions of the Corps, it has no basis in fact. The use of stripes clearly predates the Mexican War.

Blood Stripe

Corporals with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 receive their blood stripes during a Blood Stripe Ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 17. Marines are not entitled to wear the traditional blood stripe until they reach the rank of corporal, signifying their status as a noncommissioned officer. (USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Thorn)

In 1834, uniform regulations were changed to comply with President Andrew Jackson's wishes that Marine uniforms return to the green and white worn during the Revolutionary War. The wearing of stripes on the trousers began in 1837, following the Army practice of wearing stripes the same color as uniform jacket facings. Colonel Commandant Archibald Henderson ordered those stripes to be buff white. Two years later, when President Jackson left office, Colonel Henderson returned the uniform to dark blue coats faced red. In keeping with earlier regulations, stripes became dark blue edged in red. In 1849, the stripes were changed to a solid red. Ten years later uniform regulations prescribed a scarlet cord inserted into the outer seams for noncommissioned officers and musicians and a scarlet welt for officers. Finally, in 1904, the simple scarlet stripe seen today was adopted.

(The source of the above text is The National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center. To visit their web site, Click here...)

"The Few. The Proud."

"The Few. The Proud. The Marines." is the Marine Corps' advertising slogan. It won a place on Madison Avenue's Advertising Walk of Fame during Advertising Week 2007. "This slogan reflects the unique character of the Marine Corps and underscores the high caliber of those who join and serve their country as Marines," said Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, commanding general, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

(The source of the above text is the web site. To view the original article, Click here...)

"Ooh Rah"

An expression of enthusiasm used by Marines in various situations. Specifics regarding the origin of the spirit cry are sketchy and we're still searching for accurate and reliable information.

"First to Fight"
Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding of the Corps. They have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores. They have served everywhere, from the poles to the tropics. Their record of readiness reflects pride, responsibility and challenge.

In 1776, the Naval Committee of the Second Continental Congress prescribed new uniform regulations. Marine uniforms were to consist of green coats with buff white facings, buff breeches and black gaiters. Also mandated was a leather stock to be worn by officers and enlisted men alike. This leather collar served to protect the neck against cutlass slashes and to hold the head erect in proper military bearing. Sailors serving aboard ship with Marines came to call them "leathernecks."

Use of the leather stock was retained until after the Civil War when it was replaced by a strip of black glazed leather attached to the inside front of the dress uniform collar. The last vestiges of the leather stock can be seen in today's modern dress uniform, which features a stiff cloth tab behind the front of the collar.

The term "leatherneck" transcended the actual use of the leather stock and became a common nickname for United States Marines.
(The source of the above text is The National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center. To visit their web site, Click here...)


First Lieutenant Charles Rumsey Broom wears the high "leatherneck" collar in a photo circa 1817. (USMC photo)

"Devil Dogs"
In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly untakeable terrain, the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the Germans calling Marines "Teufelhunde," referring to the fierce fighting dogs of legendary origin. Ooohhh Raaah!

"Esprit de Corps"
The "spirit" of a unit. This spirit is commonly reflected by all members. It implies devotion and loyalty to the Marine Corps, with deep regard for history, traditions and honor.

"Uncommon Valor"
Refers to the victories in World War II, especially at Iwo Jima, the largest all-Marine battle in history. Admiral Nimitz's ringing epitome of Marine fighting on Iwo Jima was applied to the entire Marine Corps in World War II: "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."

The term "gyrene" is a jocular reference to Marines which was first used in England as early as 1894. It was used in the United States around the time of World War I. Its exact origin is unknown, but it did appear to have a derogatory meaning in its early usage. It has been suggested that the term may embody a reference to pollywog, a naval slang term for a person who has not yet "crossed" (the equator), hence, a landlubber.

A slang term used by sailors as early as World War II to refer to members of the Marine Corps, drawing the term from the resemblance of the Marine dress blues uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.


"War is an ugly thing, but it is not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made so by the exertions of better men than himself."
—John Stuart Mill    

EGA Shop, purchase Marine Corps Clothing and Support Our Troops at the same time!
Marine Parents and the Marine Corps
Recruit Parents
Whats After Boot Camp
After The Corps
a Place to Connect& Share®
Team Marine Parents has Marine Corps Marathon Bibs
Warrior Support Team
Gold Star Legacy
Luminary Initiative