Marine Corps celebrate 244th birthday

KESWICK, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Local Marines, past and present, celebrated the Marine Corps 244th birthday at American Legion Post 74 on Sunday.

The event was also the launch of the Toys for Tots campaign, which collects toys for underprivileged children in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Colonel James O'Kelley said Sunday's celebration is a way to recognize the past, the present and the future of the Marines.

"The whole entire purpose is to make Marines understand about your history and how far it goes," said O'Kelley. "We have a lot of young Marines from all over the area that come to this and that may be the only event for the Marine Corps they see in a year because now that they are out of the Marine Corps, they're working full time and they don't have a lot of time to do other stuff."

Art Beltrone was a Marine in the 1960s and said the celebration stands by the saying, "Once a Marine, always a Marine."

"We didn't serve together, we didn't go through the same boot camp, if we were enlisted, the officers didn't go through a boot camp but still, you learned to be a Marine and once a Marine, always a Marine," said Beltrone. "If you're walking down the street and if someone has a cover with a Marine emblem like I'm wearing and you hear someone say Semper Fi, always faithful, that means he was also a Marine or she was a Marine, so it’s that kind of camaraderie even long after you're in the Marine Corps."

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