What Is the History of the Marine Corps Motto?


Quick Answer

The United States Marine Corps motto since 1883 is "Semper Fidelis," which is Latin for "always faithful." The motto serves as a reminder to each Marine to be loyal and faithful to one another, to the mission at hand, to the Marine Corps, and to the country, no matter what. Marines frequently shorten the motto to "Semper Fi."

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Full Answer

The first recorded use of "Semper Fidelis" in a military context dates back to 1685, when the Duke of Beaufort's Regiment of Foot used it. Irish soldiers in the 17th and 18th centuries also used the motto.

In 1883, the United States Marine Corps officially adopted "Semper Fidelis" as its motto at the encouragement of Colonel Charles McCawley. Prior to this, the Marine Corps had three previous mottos. The first Marine Corps motto was "Fortitudine," meaning "with courage," a motto used up until the War of 1812. The motto "Per Mare, Per Terram," which means "by sea, by land" also saw use during this time. A third motto, "To the Shores of Tripoli" was the motto used up until 1843.

In addition to "Semper Fidelis," Marine Corps Officers also embrace the phrase "Ductos Exemplo," which means "to lead by example." This is the official motto of the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School.

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