History of The Marine Flag

marine flag

History of the Marine Flag

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Do you know what the Marines even do?

The Marine Corps are a branch within the United States Military. They fight for our country on land, sea, and in the air. This nearly 250 year old military group has such a fascinating background

Follow along as we tell you all about how the Marine Corps became who they are today.

marine flag


The Continental Marines were originally formed on November 10, 1775 in the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The approval of it included two battalions with the ability to fight for America at sea and shore.

When the Revolutionary War ended in 1783 , all the Navy ships were sold and the Continental Marines and Navy separated. 5 years later, the branches were re-established and they became the Marine Corps. Since then, they have been tasked with land, sea, and air duties.

marine flag

The Flag

An official flag of the Marine Corps was not adopted until 1939. The current official flag was adopted in 1955, and it has a red field with the Marine emblem on it. The emblem includes a globe, an anchor, and an eagle.

The globe represents the worldwide presence of the Marines. The anchor symbolizes its naval heritage and the eagle represents the country that they protect. Finally, the eagle has a ribbon in its mouth with the words ‘Semper Fidelis’ on it. At the bottom, there is another ribbon featuring the words ‘United States Marine Corps’.

marine flag

Prior to Today

Before any official flag was adopted, the Marine Corps displayed other flags. In 1775, the Gadsden ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag was used for a bit. It is not clear what flag was used from 1783 to the 1900s. Some of the unofficial flags still did have the emblem and/or the words ‘Semper Fidelis‘ on it.

Semper Fidelis

This saying is a Latin phrase that means ‘always faithful’ or ‘always loyal’. It is the motto of the Marine Corps and is usually shortened to ‘semper fi’. It is often used as a motto for towns, families, and some schools.

marine flag

Did You Know?…

  • According to legend, the first Marine Corps recruitments took place in a bar.
  • Marines are called ‘jarheads‘ sometimes. This is a slang phrase that appeared around World War II, referring to their appearance. The high collar on their uniform with their head popping out of the top resembled a Mason Jar.
  • ‘Oorah!’ is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or used as an expression of enthusiasm.

More From Cedar Sense

If you liked learning about the history behind the Marine Corps flag, let’s take a look at the history behind the Army flag!

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What is the official Marine flag?
The Marine Corps flag is scarlet and shows the Marine Corps emblem, which contains a fouled anchor, a globe displaying the western hemisphere, and a spread American Bald Eagle atop the globe. A ribbon held in the eagle’s beak carries the Marine motto, “Semper Fidelis,” (Latin for “always faithful”).

What are the three types of flags USMC?
There are three types of American military flags today: service flags, maritime flags, and personal flags.

What does the Marine Corps flag represent?
The fouled Anchor, whose origin dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, represents the amphibious nature of the Marines’ duties and emphasizes the close ties between the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.

Can a civilian fly a Marine Corps flag?
While there is no authorization for the flags of the five services to be flown by civilians—veterans, the families of active duty personnel and others fly them to show their pride in our military and the service branches they symbolize.

What is the motto of the Marines?
‘Semper Fidelis’ – Latin for “Always Faithful,” Semper Fidelis is the motto of every Marine—an eternal and collective commitment to the success of our battles, the progress of our Nation, and the steadfast loyalty to the fellow Marines we fight alongside.


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