Telling Our History Through Marine Apparel
It doesn’t take more than a quick glance at our top-selling Marine t-shirts to see a wide range of influences. Some may be nationally familiar. For example, most Americans know that “Semper Fidelis” is our motto. Others shirts may cause more blank stares from the average person, like our “Sons of Tun” t-shirt. Each t-shirt from Leatherneck For Life’s best-selling collection of USMC apparel offers a glimpse into the history of the United States Marine Corps from where we started to what it means to be Semper Fi through and through.
“For he who sheds his blood with me shall always be my brother.”
This quote originates in Shakespeare’s Henry V. Though fictionalized, the title character delivers one of the most memorable call-to-action war speeches of all time. The sentiment is seen in the following lines spoken by King Henry V:
King Henry, though royalty, was surrounded by “commoners” and proudly proclaimed that when fighting together, they indeed became brothers regardless of age, social class, gender, or religion. Does the first line of that quote also ring a bell? Many of us know the USMC recruiting slogan as, “The Few, The Proud.” While Henry V was written long before America was founded, you can see the influence that this play had on the attitude of the Marine Corps today.
Our American-made USMC apparel includes our best-selling Marine t-shirt with this famous saying emblazoned across the back to represent that in this brotherhood, the brave men and women who serve have one another’s backs.
The Marines Are Born In Tun Tavern, 1775
While today bars and taverns are where we go to get away from work, during the American Revolution they were where important political discussions took place and decisions were made. Notable historical figures ranging from Benjamin Franklin to John Adams were said to have frequented Tun Tavern to use as a place of business.
Tun Tavern was located in Philadelphia along the banks of the Delaware River. Its location along the river made Tun Tavern a popular stop for seafarers, and through the years became a popular rest area for many passing through. When Colonists were involved in conflicts with Native Americans in the 1750s, the bar was used by Benjamin Franklin as a recruiting point for the Pennsylvania Militia. Twenty-five years later, just before America was officially its own, independent country, the Naval Committee of the Continental Congress used Tun Tavern as a meeting location to discuss naval and maritime issues.
On a November 10, 1775 meeting of the Continental Congress in Tun Tavern, Samuel Nicholas was commissioned to raise two battalions of Marines. Nicholas immediately got to work the very same day and began recruiting the first members of the United States Marine Corps.
Leatherneck For Life
The term “leatherneck” has been used in reference to Marines for over 200 years, and its origin and meaning is cloudy. Originally, US Marines wore a stiff leather collar as part of their uniform, usually standing about 3 inches tall. Some historians believe this collar was designed to keep the Marine’s posture straight and head held high. Others claim that this leather stock was used as protection during the Barbary Wars, where Marines actively fought troops armed with scimitars and cutlasses. The stiff collar could protect the Marine’s neck from sword cuts.
At one point in history, ‘leatherneck’ was used as a derogatory term for Marines. Though, in true Marine fashion, they ‘embraced the suck’ and took fondly to the name, especially once the stiff leather collars were discontinued. Eventually, the term ‘leatherneck’ came to designate the toughness, endurance, and tenacity of Marines. Our necks may be weathered, unwashed, burnt, and leathery, but we’re all the tougher for it.
Today, the influence of the original leather collar can be seen in the stiff leather collar on our Dress Blues. And judging by the name of our USMC apparel company, we are proud to be leathernecks. If you are too, our “Leatherneck For Life” shirt featuring the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor insignia is one of our favorite Marine t-shirts we offer.
Once A Marine, Always A Marine. Semper Fi.
The United States Marine Corps is not the first military regimen in the world to use Semper Fidelis as our motto, but we are definitely the ones who most people associate the saying with. The Latin phrase translates to “always faithful,” and shows the dedications of Marines to their country and to their brotherhood. Many cities, schools, and organizations use this phrase as their motto.
Semper Fidelis was first used as a military motto by regiments from south-west England in 1685. Soon, the use spread among other military units in England. By the 1690s, the Irish Brigade, an independent army within the French army, adapted the motto to be Semper et ubique Fidelis, meaning “always and everywhere faithful.” The Irish Brigade used this motto to show their devotion to their native Irish culture and their commitment to the Catholic church.
In 1883, the USMC adopted Semper Fidelis as their official motto at the insistence of Colonel Charles McCawley, the 8th Commandment of the Marine Corps. Previously, the Marines had a few other official mottos. The first was Fortitudine, meaning ‘with courage.’ Next came Per Mare, Per Terram, meaning ‘By Sea, By Land” and described the amphibious nature of a Marine’s duty. Eventually, the motto was changed to what we know today, Semper Fidelis, to show that Marines have a dedication to both their corps and country even after their service is done.
Much of our USMC apparel is emblazoned with Semper Fidelis, including this Marine t-shirt that states “Not As Lean, Not As Mean. Still A Marine,” which shows how once you take that oath, you are a Marine for life.
Strapping Up For Boot Camp
There are two training facilities for enlisted Marines. Male recruits living west of the Mississippi report to Marine Corps Report Depot, San Diego, and male recruits living east of the Mississippi, as well as all female recruits, report to MCRD Parris Island. MCRD Parris Island has been in use as a Marine training facility since 1915, and San Diego quickly followed in 1919.
Marines are known for having the toughest boot camp of all uniformed services. Our boot camp is longer than others, requires more demanding physical fitness tests to graduate, and boasts the strictest height and weight requirements for recruits. During training, recruits are cut off from civilian life and taught the ways of the Marine. In a World War II memoir about his time as a Marine, Robert Leckie described his time at Parris Island as follows:
“It is a process of surrender. At every turn, at every hour, it seemed, a habit or a preference had to be given up, an adjustment had to be made. Even in the mess hall, we learned that nothing mattered so little as a man’s own likes or dislikes… If you are undone in Parris Island, taken apart in those first few weeks, it is at the rifle range that they start to put you together again.”
If you can handle the dissection from all that you know and love, you still must experience the Drill Instructor. DI’s are known for being tough SOB’s who berate, verbally abuse, and discipline recruits. Of course, this is all done with a purpose: to turn recruits into Marines. A retired Marine, Eugene Sledge, says in his memoir of his Drill Instructor:
“We didn’t realize or appreciate the fact that the discipline we were learning in responding to orders under stress often would mean the difference later in combat - between success and failure, even living or dying. By the end of eight grueling weeks, it had become apparent that [the Drill Instructor] had done his job well. We were hard physically, had developed endurance, and had learned our lessons. Perhaps more important, we were tough mentally… I disliked [the DI], but I respected him. He made us Marines.”
Even with the tough physical demands and even tougher psychological demands, you graduate ready to be a Marine. As the memoirs above state, they will tear you down into pieces, but they will always build you and your fellow recruits back up, stronger than you ever have been. When you enlist to fight for your country, you give up the luxury of daily life and comforts, but you gain a brotherhood.
If you have pride for all you went through at your Marine Corps Recruit Depot and after, you can show your commitment by sporting our USMC apparel brand whether you graduated from Parris Island or San Diego. Both shirts feature a vintage faded print on the front, as well as having the words “I Earned My Free College” across the back. With all that Marines have been through in our careers, we did earn our “free” college through a commitment to the Corps, our country, and protecting the American people.
The Marines Gain Their Present-Day Insignia, 1955
Since the Marines were formed in 1775, they have had an insignia consisting only of a fouled anchor tangled in its chain. Throughout the next decades, the emblem underwent many changes, eventually adding an eagle clutching the anchor in its talons, and 13 stars that can be seen on the buttons of dress uniforms today.
In 1868, a globe was added showing the continents of the Western Hemisphere. In 1954, General Lemuel C. Shepherd requested a new design that would become the official insignia of the United States Marine Corps. The design is the same Eagle, Globe and Anchor that we know today. Later that year, President Eisenhower approved the design, and the emblem was adopted as the official seal in 1955.
Today, the Eagle, Globe and Anchor represents the purpose that every Marine serves. The eagle stands at the ready atop the globe with wings outstretched, having the entire world within its sight and within reach, showing that Marines will go to every corner of the world to fight for freedom. The anchor represents a Marine’s ability to traverse waters and access coastlines.
As Marines, every part of our uniform is representative of the brave men and women who came before us. From our field cammies to our dress blues, each thread is designed with a purpose and with symbolic meaning - and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor is an all-encompassing symbol of our mission. Leatherneck For Life honors this through our USMC apparel and Marine t-shirts, including our vintage Eagle, Globe and Anchor shirt.
“No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy”
General James Mattis, who earned the nickname “Mad Dog” because of his blunt, straightforward attitude is known for delivering some memorable quotes without blinking an eye. To give you a perspective, he once told his Marines the following rule to live by in Iraq: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Mattis has also been quoted telling a group of Iraqi leaders, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I am pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you [mess] with me, I’ll kill you all.” We’ll give you a hint about this quote to show that Mad Dog earned his nickname: he used another four-letter word in place of ‘mess’. When talking about his distaste for how the enemy treats their own people, he said, “It’s quite fun to shoot them you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.”
But General Mattis wasn’t by any means all bronze and no brains. Some of his other memorable quotes show his immense heart, dedication to his the protection of his Marines and his people, and a wealth of common sense. In perhaps his most famous speech, he offered this advice to his Marine unit before a 2003 invasion of Iraq:
“On our young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind… We will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression… Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other… Keep faith in your comrades… Fight with a happy heart and a strong spirit… Demonstrate to the world that there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”
This final line is the one we have chosen to proudly display on our USMC apparel. Leatherneck For Life’s ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ Marine shirt features the Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem as well, and serves as a reminder of the dedication Marines have to their country and loved ones, and the lengths they will go to when their honor is in jeopardy.
American-Made USMC Apparel From Start To Finish
Our Marine shirts are American-made in more ways than one. Physically, our shirts are 100% made in America, from the ink we use for printing to the fabric of the shirt. By doing this, we are trying to do our small part to help America regain its strong manufacturing base, employ American workers, and support our internal economy. By purchasing Marine shirts and USMC apparel from Leatherneck For Life, you are also doing a part to support this cause.
Symbolically, our USMC shirts represent a long and proud history of the United States Marine Corps. From the first recruitment in Tun Tavern to the General James “Mad Dog” Mattis offering words of wisdom and encouragement and every drop of blood, sweat, and tears that were shed in between.
Leatherneck For Life is a veteran-owned and operated company that is dedicated to providing a way for the Marine community a way to share ideas, thoughts, and views. One way we do this is by offering a wide selection of Marine apparel and USMC shirts, decals, accessories, and more. Our USMC apparel is designed to tell a story and offer more insight into the life of the United States Marine Corps.
Our Favorite Marine Corps Hats
While Marine apparel like t-shirts and hoodies are great, they spend a lot of time in the laundry pile. If you are looking for a way to show your USMC pride every day, we suggest one of our Marine Corps hats.
If you want to take a look at all of our USMC hats, head over to our Marine Covers page. If you need some help deciding, keep reading to learn more about some of the options we offer here at Leatherneck For Life. We take pride in the products we provide the Marine and Armed Forces community, so you can rest easy knowing that every hat, beanie, or other USMC apparel you receive from Leatherneck For Life is a quality product that you can wear for years and years.
Eagle, Globe & Anchor Hats
If you’re looking for a hat that shows your pride for the brotherhood without being too overt, our Eagle, Globe, & Anchor USMC hats are perfect. Most civilians will recognize it as a Military hat, but may not immediately identify it with the Marines. Meanwhile, your USMC brothers and sisters are sure to give you a nod of approval. We have a ton of options for our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor hats, so be sure to check out the whole collection. However, some of our most popular are our MARPAT cap and our navy blue Eagle, Globe, & Anchor Marine Corps Hat.
Beanies are great for early morning jogs or spending time in cold weather, and we know Marines often do both. Our USMC beanies come in multiple colors, shapes, and designs, so there will always be one that suits your style. Our best selling cover, the Tactical Fleece Watch Cap, features a space for a patch of your choice. We also sell beanies that feature the Insignia, as well as some with our Leatherneck For Life logo.
“I Served, I Stand” Hats
We have a number of hats featuring this saying that has become increasingly meaningful during the debate over whether or not people, namely professional athletes, should stand for the National Anthem. This hat is perfect for people who stand by their country through thick and thin. If you put your life on the line to serve your country and protect the rights of those who live there, we can bet we’ll find you standing for the Anthem, proudly holding this hat over your chest. Our “I Served, I Stand” Marine hats all feature the American Flag in one way or another. On some, such as our Marine trucker hat, the flag is printed onto the mesh backing. On others, it is featured on the brim, like on our Mossy Oak Camo Hat.
Old Glory and American Flag Operator Hats
Not surprisingly, we carry an array of caps that simply feature the American flag front and center. We love these operator hats, which feature Old Glory patches right on the front in multiple colors. For example, if you want an operator cap with an OD green American flag patch, or even one with a blue line for police officers, we have them. These American flag baseball caps are a great way to show your love for your country every single day.
As Marine Corps Veterans ourselves, we understand the want to wear your branch with pride. For that reason, Leatherneck For Life offers a lot of different styles, colors, and designs of Marine Corps hats. One of our favorite and bestselling caps is our green USMC Vintage Hat that features ‘USMC’ across the front in slightly worn-looking lettering for a feel like you’ve had this cap forever. For veterans, we love our USMC Veteran Cap in red or black. Whether you proudly wear a veteran hat in your daily life, or only break it out for special occasions, a quality USMC Veteran cap is a great thing to keep in your home. This sturdy hat will last for years to come, so you can show others that you have pride in your service. We also enjoy our Camo “Marines” Hat that says exactly what you are right across the front on a woodland camo background. Again, these are just a few of our favorite USMC hats, so be sure to check out the whole collection.
Gun Rights HatsIf you have been following the news lately, you’ll know that gun laws are a hot topic right now. If you are a proud gun-owning American wanting to make a political statement, you might be interested in our gun rights hats. These hats feature the classic “Don’t Tread On Me” snake with strong statements to accompany them. This one, for example, features an automatic weapon with the phrase “Come And Take It.” Another one of our gun rights hats features the bold statement, “Due To The Cost Of Ammo, We No Longer Fire A Warning Shot.” This is a great cap to show people you mean business.
USMC Hats Show Your Pride
These hats are a great way to show your pride in your country and in your service. Our Marine hats for men and women are perfect for everyday wear and are sure to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice that some make for our country. While all of our USMC t-shirts are made in America, some of our hats are imported in order to provide you with the baseball cap brands you know and trust. Shop our entire collection today.