View Full Version : Eagle, Globe and Anchor History

03-26-04, 08:47 PM
I have a question that no one has been able to clarify for me. It's kind of silly, but well, here it goes... I'm sure there are many out there that are a hell of a lot smarter than me!

The current Marine Corps emblem is laced with a rope. However, emblems from WWI (at least before WWII), were not. Why is this? Someone told me that this was a distinction between officer and NCO. True? Somehow, I don't believe that.

Phantom Blooper
03-26-04, 08:59 PM
Marine Corps Emblem and Seal

The history of the Marine Corps emblem is a story related to the history of the Corps itself. The emblem of today traces its roots to the designs and ornaments of early Continental Marines as well as British Royal Marines. The emblem took its present form in 1868. Before that time many devices, ornaments, and distinguishing marks followed one another as official marks of the Corps.

In 1776, the device consisted of a "foul anchor" of silver or pewter. The foul anchor still forms a part of the emblem today. (A foul anchor is an anchor which has one or more turns of the chain around it). Changes were made in 1798, 1821, and 1824. In 1834 it was prescribed that a brass eagle be worn on the hat, the eagle to measure 3 inches from wingtip to wingtip.

During the early years numerous distinguishing marks were prescribed, including "black cockades", "scarlet plumes," and "yellow bands and tassels." In 1859 the origin of the present color scheme for the officer's dress uniform ornaments appeared on an elaborate device of solid white metal and yellow metal. The design included a United States shield, half wreath, a bugle, and the letter "M."

In 1868, Brigadier General Commandant Jacob Zeilin appointed a board "to decide and report upon the various devices of cap ornaments of the Marine Corps." On 13 November 1868, the board turned in its report. It was approved by the Commandant four days later, and on 19 November 1868 was signed by the Secretary of the Navy.

The emblem recommended by this board consists of a globe (showing the Western Hemisphere) intersected by a foul anchor, and surmounted by a spread eagle. On the emblem itself, the device is topped by a ribbon inscribed with the Latin motto "Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful). The uniform ornaments omit the motto ribbon.

The general design of the emblem was probably derived from the British Royal Marines' "Globe and Laurel." The globe on the U.S. Marine emblem signifies service in any part of the world. The eagle also indirectly signifies service worldwide, although this may not have been the intention of the designers in 1868. The eagle which they selected for the Marine emblem is a crested eagle, a type found all over the world. On the other hand, the eagle pictured on the great seal and the currency of the United States is the bald eagle, strictly a North American variety. The anchor, whose origin dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, indicates the amphibious nature of Marines' duties.

On 22 June 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Executive Order, which approved the design of an official seal for the United States Marine Corps. The new seal had been designed at the request of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.

The new seal consisted of the traditional Marine Corps emblem in bronze; however, an American bald eagle replaced the crested eagle depicted on the 1868 emblem, and is depicted with wings displayed, standing upon the western hemisphere of the terrestrial globe, and holding in his beak a scroll inscribed with the Marine Corps motto "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) with the hemisphere superimposed on a foul anchor. The seal is displayed on a scarlet background encircled with a Navy blue band edged in a gold rope rim and inscribed "Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps" in gold letters. Coincident with the approval of this seal by the President, the emblem centered on the seal was adopted in 1955 as the official Marine Corps Emblem.

Reference Section
History and Museums Division


03-26-04, 09:04 PM
That is the best history I have ever read on it. Thank you - I think the rope adds a nice touch.

03-26-04, 09:26 PM

You're on the right track, pior to WWI only Marine Officers wore the Emblem of our Corps General Neville USMC sought to get premission so the enlist could wear a similar Emblem, that was smaller than the one Officers wore.

Belleau Wood is the most significant of the Corps WW I battles. It saved Paris from the massive German offensive in June 1918, and it was the greatest battle up to that time the the history of the US Marine Corps. The causalities of the 4th Marine Brigade in assaulting the well-organized German center of resistance in Belleau Wood were comparable only to those casualties later sustained the the hardest-fought beach assaults of WW II. After Belleau Wood, German intelligence evaluated the Marine Brigade as "storm troops"-the highest rating on the enemy scale of fighting men.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, visited the 4th Marine Brigade in France, shortly after Belleau Wood. In recognition of the Brigade's victory, he directed that enlisted Marines would henceforth wear the Marine Crops emblem on their collars.
By that time Brig. General Neville had taken command of the 2nd Division from Major General John Lejeune.
He sought permission from Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who visiting the Marines in France.

I'm not sure when the Fouled Anchor came to be that the one with a rope lace around it.
No question is silly, the only question that silly is the question not asked...
In the link above is a great deal of information on the Marine Corps Emblem and the Marines in France in WW I...

Semper Fidelis

04-03-04, 06:52 PM
Well Im here to say that every jarhead knows that we stole the anchor from the navy. The eagle from the air force. The rope from the army. And on the seventh day when the Lord rested we stole the world.

Semper FI. I read alot that I really didnt know about the history of our most cherished emblem.

04-04-04, 12:00 AM
also the "Cuba" is missing on all officer's Eagle, Globe and Anchor's
it is present on all Enlisted versions

If my memory serves me right this is due to the absence of officers in the battles there... is this correct?

04-04-04, 04:26 AM
One of our Drill Instructors, also a Sea Duty Marine, told us that the 'fouled anchor' was a reminder that we are Marines not mariners.

I have no idea about the absence of Cuba.

04-04-04, 05:46 AM
Yes, that is true about Cuba.

04-04-04, 11:35 AM
Phantom Blooper,

That was a very excellent history lesson. Most of it I knew of course, and there are always variations in the way that things are told, but your rendition is great.

Semper Fidelis, the way it is discribed by "Marine Corps motto "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) with the hemisphere superimposed on a foul anchor. The seal is displayed on a scarlet" this passage in your history confuses me. Is this a mis print? I have never heard of (Ever Faithful) when saying or the meaning of Semper Fidelis.

Semper Fidelis