Performances by Marine Band San Diego and the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon could be heard far from Campus Martius as the corps kicked off a week in Detroit with a crowd of 600 people Wednesday.
More than 700 Marines have traveled to the Motor City to take part in 80 free community events through Sunday for Marine Week Detroit. The annual event has been held in a different city for the last eight years as a way to reach out to communities, the Marine Corps said.
This year, the commandant of the Marine Corps said, Detroit was special to him.
“I thought it was important to get us up in this part of the country,” said Gen. Robert Neller. “A lot of Marines come from Michigan, more than you can imagine. Detroit was also picked because I’m from East Lansing and this is what I picked, it’s home.”
Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley helped launch the celebration of “Community, Country and Corps,” thanking those serving, veterans and Gold Star families who attended the ceremony Wednesday.
“We are here to recognize the excellence, the courage and especially the sacrifice,” Calley said. “What a small amount of time, one week to dedicate 242 years. That’s a long time to remain faithful, and yet, they are always faithful. On behalf of the state of Michigan, I want to say thank you,” Calley said.
This is the first time the event has been held in Detroit.
Retired U.S. Marine Bill Sidebottom and his fellow retired Corps members attended the opening ceremony and to every mention to the word marine, they shouted “Semper Fi,” meaning “always faithful” in Latin, as did many viewers on Facebook.
The Evening of Colors followed at 7 p.m. as they lowered the flag at the Spirit of Detroit statue. The Marines made their way to the Tigers game against the Kansas City Royals, throwing out the first pitch. They will also be at the season opener of the Lions versus Arizona Cardinals game Sunday.
“We have lots of representation here at Selfridge and two reserve companies in Lansing and Grand Rapids,” said Neller who joined the Marine Corps in 1975. “Only fitting that we show all we have.”
The annual commemoration activities include Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstrations, workout sessions in Cadillac Square, fallen hero ceremonies, school visits and sporting events.
Throughout the week, the Marine Corps vehicles and aircraft will be on display in General Motors Co.’s parking lot on Atwater. Attendees can meet marines who operate the equipment and they can climb aboard from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
For the full Marine Week Detroit lineup, visit usmarineweek.com.
Many Marines are traveling from San Diego and Washington, D.C., and the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine reserve unit in Selfridge also is involved.
Since 2009, U.S. cities without a significant Marine Corps presence have hosted Marine Week, including Chicago, Cleveland, Nashville and Seattle.
U.S. Marine Corps spokeswoman Diann Rosenfeld said most Marines are stationed on coasts, such as around southern California, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Quantico, Virginia.
There are about 182,000 active Marines and 38,900 in the Reserves. Approximately 5,700 active Marines and 3,300 Reserve Marines claim Michigan as the state they resided in when they entered the corps. Of those, 200 active Marines and 100 Reserves identify Detroit as their hometown.
“Military music is to art what military law is to justice,” Mike Turek, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force from 1968-72, posted on The Detroit New’s Facebook video of the event.