Semper Fidelis is the instantly recognizable slogan of the United States Marines It is emblazoned at the top of the US Marines flag. Since the Marine Corps formed on 11 July 1788, the flag has gone through numerous designs (both official and unofficial). Keep reading if you want to learn more about the history, design, and meaning of the US Marines Flag.
Although there is a surprisingly minimal amount of information surrounding what flags the first generation of US Marines carried, Corps historians have several theories about the first flags. Two prominent ideas include the Grand Union Flag, the first flag of the United States, and the yellow Gadsden flag, with the snake motif.
During the mid-19th century, US Marines carried a standard that boasted a white field with a gold fringe. In the center, there was a detailed eagle and anchor. Before the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), this flag also bore the inscription To the Shore of Tripoli. This legend was expanded at the conflict’s end, reading From Tripoli to the Halls of the Montezumas.
The flag continued to evolve throughout the remainder of the century and into the 1900s. Reports claim that there were times when the flag bore a strong resemblance to the iconic stars and stripes with an eagle perched atop the shield of the United States.
In 1914, the flag bore a design that shared many similarities with the current design. This flag bore a navy blue field and the Marine Corps emblem enclosed within a wreath. Scarlet ribbons provided further details and were placed above and below the emblem. The top ribbon bore U.S. Marine Corps, while the bottom emblem is the first example of Semper Fidelis on the Marine Corps flag.
On 18 January 1939, the flag was redesigned again. This is the same design that has persisted throughout the 20th century and continues to be used by the U.S. Marine Corps today.
The modern-day US Marines flag bears many similarities to that used between 1914 and 1939. However, there are several differences. The clearest distinction is the field. Since 1939, the US Marines flag has boasted a scarlet field. Besides this, it includes the Corps emblem (an eagle standing on top of a globe and in front of an anchor) in gray and gold. These colors were established as the official Marine Corps colors in 1925 by the Marine Corps Order 4. Further details include white ribbons with gold trim, but the order is reversed compared to the 1914 version. The bottom banner reads United States Marine Corps, and the top banner, protruding from the eagle’s mouth, reads the famous Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for Always Faithful.
The official flag measures 52 inches (130 cm) hoisted, while the fly style is bigger at 62 inches (160 cm). There are also various extra features depending on where the flag is flown. For indoor hoisting and parades, it bears a gold fringe, although this is absent outdoors.
Flying The Flag
The US Marines Flag is one of the most recognizable flags across North America and the world. It inspires discipline and strength, matching the remarkable skills and determination of every individual who joins the United States Marine Corps.