Oklahoma Marines find way to celebrate Corps birthday


NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR)- The coronavirus pandemic has caused problems for just about everything we do, and that includes a birthday celebration for the Marines.

On a cold, cloudy morning in Norman, Marines from around the metro gathered responsibly at the open-air pavilion at the Veteran’s Center in Norman to say happy birthday to the Corps.

“Challenges make opportunities and the Marine Corps, that’s what makes us the Marine Corps. We adapt and we get things done,” said SVC Danny Thomas, of the Sooner detachment of the Marine Corps League.

Thomas says normally vets and current Marines would gather in Oklahoma City for a big birthday luncheon on Nov. 10, but thanks to the pandemic those traditional plans were scrapped.

“What the commandant of the Marine Corps, General Berger, asked everybody in the Marine Corps worldwide is to continue the traditions. But we don’t want to do any birthday balls, we don’t want to do any large gatherings, improvise at your level,” said Thomas.

So after a postponement, organizers arranged for 10 veteran center residents in Norman to bundle up and mask up and celebrate as best they could.

“It was really neat to be a part of it,” said David Dirkschneider.

The 40-year-old Marine was the youngest leatherneck in attendance. The oldest was 94-year-old World War II veteran Glendale Ray.

Both got cake cut with a sword to symbolize the passing of history and traditions to the next generation.

“There is a big brotherhood and comradery anytime Marines can get together and celebrate the tradition. It just means a lot,” said Dirkschneider.

One of the biggest perks of this year’s celebration was the opportunity for some of the veteran center Marines to see their fellow leathernecks.

“They haven’t had any family contact, haven’t had any visitors. They have been secluded since this all started,” said Thomas.

COVID-19 is not just causing problems for the Marine Corps birthday celebration, SVC Thomas says they need a command central for their annual Toys for Tots campaign.

If you think you can help out, there is more information at the Toys for Tots website.


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