The Marines Hymn
Presley O’Bannon and his troops captured Derna, and we had “the shores of Tripoli.” Mexico and the taking of the Castle of Chapultepec gave us the “Halls.” The colors of the Corps carried those inscriptions, and we had the first stanza of the Hymn early in our history.
In 1878, after several years of research to trace the origin of the tune of the hymn, Col. A.S. McLemore, USMC, told Walter F. Smith, second leader of the Marine Band, “..The tune is heard in the comic opera ‘Genevieve de Barbant,’ ” by Jaques Offenbach. However, additional research during the same era indicated that the tune might have originated years earlier in a Spanish folk song.
Regardless, the Hymn has been sung all over the world by millions of people. In 1929, the commandant authorized the Hymn and, with one exception, no changes have been made since then:
“From the Halls of Montezuma…
to the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on the land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
“Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
from dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snows of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job-
The UNITED STATES MARINES.
“Here’s health to you and to our Corps
which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By UNITED STATES MARINES!”