MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Each year thousands of Marines celebrate the birth of the Marine Corps with one of the most beloved traditions in the military: the Marine Corps Ball. That time-honored custom allows Marines to pay tribute to the history of the organization while enjoying time together outside of the office and field environments.
Many Marines bring only one guest, usually a friend or loved one, to join in the celebration, but approximately 50 families gathered for the inaugural Marine Aircraft Group 26 Marine Corps Children’s Ball aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 13, 2015.
“The Children’s Ball was designed to give children the benefit of knowing what a Marine Corps Ball consists of,” said William Coplen, the unit’s family readiness officer. “This gives the kids the ability to really see what their parents are doing: celebrating the traditions of the Marine Corps and having a good time.”
The tradition of the Children’s Ball within MAG-26 originates with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 in 2011 and in following years became popular enough with the families to be held at the aircraft group-level.
“During the Marine Corps Ball, the children are all someplace else and they don’t know what mom and dad are doing,” said Col. Jeff Hogan, the commanding officer of MAG-26. “It’s important to remember why we’re all here and that the families are the most important part. If the kids know what their parents are doing, they can be even more proud of their mom or dad for serving.”
The Children’s Ball began with the marching in of the national and unit colors, an invocation from the unit’s chaplain and a cake cutting ceremony similar to the Marine Corps Ball, followed by dinner, dancing and music.
The guest of honor at the ball was the Marine Corps mascot, the Devil Dog, who made his rounds of the event, visiting families on and off the dance floor while balloons and laughter filled the air.
“This is the first time I’ve been to a ball like this and everyone seems like they’re having a good time,” Hogan said. “I think we should do this every year. I’ll tell anybody that this is a really great time and the only thing we should do next time is make it bigger.”