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12-03-06, 03:02 PM #1
Has Anyone Attended A Mess Night?Mess Nights: more than just good manners night
Lance Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine
The Marine Corps is notorious for its proficiency on the battlefield as well as its dignified manner in formal environments. In the introduction of the 9th Communication Battalion’s mess night manual titled “The History of Mess Night,” such professionalism is addressed:
“Gallantry and comradeship in arms have enabled our small corps to build a name for itself that is known throughout the world, feared by our enemies and respected by every military service in existence. This name was not easily won, and we of the Corps should not allow ourselves to forget how it was accomplished, nor should we allow others to forget. By that we do not mean we should advertise our war record nor should we even mention it, but to maintain our name we must conduct ourselves at all times in a manner befitting one who is part of such a tradition. The maintenance of traditional discipline, gallantry and love of the Corps is our duty. We must see that the same high standard of respect and prestige is not only maintained but further strengthened. It must be passed on to the future officers who will take our place among the ranks of the Corps and look back with pride on what we have accomplished. The mess night is an element in fostering such standards.”
The seemingly-ridged foundation of mess nights is due to its orientation dating back to the Royal British Marines, and even as far back as King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Despite the long history of mess nights, they still hold the same concept of celebration and camaraderie among warriors.
The first notable formal U.S. Marine mess nights took place in Washington, D.C., during the 1930’s and 1940’s. It was in this time period that the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, ordered the publication of the book “The Marine Officer’s Guide,” the first published document of mess etiquette.
Ray V. Wilburn, a retired Sergeant Major, recalls the mess nights he attended while in the Corps.
“We did everything completely by the book,” said Wilburn, referring to the execution of mess night affairs. “If you had to go to the bathroom, no matter if you were enlisted or an officer, you had to raise your hand and ask the president permission before you could go. Then, you would have to ask permission again before you could re-enter the room.”
Wilburn went on to describe the differences he sees in the mess nights now. Now, there’s been kind of a drifting away from the regulations they had in earlier mess nights. Now, it’s much more of a fun thing for Marines. It’s more relaxed than the controlled environment they had at first.”
Something mess nights have now that wasn’t always there is the “fining”. That is where Marines can accuse other Marines at the mess of outlandish and arbitrary crimes ranging from bad fashion to strange habits. These fines vary in severity and punishment, depending on the creativity of the staff, president, and Mr. Vice.
It may seem as though the fines are meant to make the attendees uncomfortable, but they are not intended to single-out a Marine. Instead, it offers a more light-hearted atmosphere for attendees to laugh among each other and bond as a band of brothers and sisters.
Mess Nights are a traditional way of giving honor to past Marines and victorious battles which changed the course of our history.
No better friend/No worse enemy
12-03-06, 06:20 PM #2
Oddly enough, in the Marine Corps, none. In the Air National Guard, one dining-in mess night (the super formal kind) and three dining-outs (less formal rules with non-military guests allowed). Plus I attended a mess night at the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess for the Windsor Regiment and Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment in Canada (also very formal). Much fun. Big hangovers.
I had to sing the Marines Hymn at the formal dining-in as a fine for being "A jarhead infiltrating an Air Force event." Guilty as charged. But they regretted it as I am a horrible singer.
12-03-06, 08:57 PM #3
He have had three in H&S Company at 8th & I. All three were NCO-only mess nights. Of the three the only one I didn't goto was the one during corporal's course. They really are fun cause you can talk smack about each other without the Lcpls and below getting any ideas.
12-04-06, 08:26 AM #4
Sounds gay to me.
12-04-06, 09:39 AM #5
I had occasion to perform at many mess nights. There is a certain amount of traditional martial music that is part of the festivities. We would sound "Attention." Play "Ruffles and Flourishes", and play "The Roast Beef of Old England" as the chef wheeled in the food cart, with the meat on it, etc. Usually our portion of the ceremonies would end with "The Marine's Hymn."
Once in a while, the musicians (who are of course enlisted) were invited to stay and party...once the "smoking lamp is lighted" and the invitation "Gentlemen, will you join me at the bar?" were announced.
From my perspective, they were always a lot of fun.
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