The U.S. Marine as a Symbol of a Soldier and a Part of the American Myth




The United States has many symbols. Though most of them did not originate in the country, they have become the country’s brand name in the perception of the general public. The history of the Marine Corps dates back to the ancient world, but modern formations of this type originated in the early 17th century, when the Netherlands, France and England began to compete for rule of the oceans. Marines are not only associated with the formation as such, but generally symbolize the American soldier, in particular one who serves outside the country, often as an instrument of Washington’s intervention. According to the traditional understanding, Marines were organized in units which were present on every battleship. On the one hand, the soldiers were on guard to ensure the crew’s discipline, while on the other they participated in onshore raids in small‑scale operations. Until the Spanish‑American War in 1898, the Marine Corps was a small battle unit, constantly threatened with being liquidated or absorbed by the army or the fleet. The outbreak of the war between the US and Spain changed the situation, giving way to a brilliant career for the Corps, which was not only saved but even developed by supporters of the idea of American expansionism who were then in power. Being stationed on board, they were always at hand, and thus became used to running small‑scale operations, chiefly of a police nature, mainly in Central American republics and the Caribbean. Marines were also popular heroes in the press for their participation in topical events of US foreign policy, which promoted the Corps among US citizens. Newspapers contained photographs of young men with glowing smiles, sporting khaki uniforms and wide‑brimmed hats, posing with weapons under a tropical sun. The fact that marines serve close to the President certainly contributes to their popularity. Marines of the HMX‑1 helicopter squadron have the honor and responsibility of providing short‑range air lift for the President of the United States. The orchestra that plays during official ceremonies at the White House is also part of the Corps. Marines continue to be an instrument of US intervention, and are employed to serve US foreign policy when the situation so requires. The US Marine Corps is one of the most recognizable combat forces worldwide, a flagship of the US armed force. Their popularity manifests itself also in the fact that they are frequent heroes of press releases, books and films.

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Author Biography

Robert Kłosowicz, Jagiellonian University, Poland

(PhD), professor of the Jagiellonian University, historian and researcher of international relations, employed in the Chair of History of Diplomacy and International Policy. In his research he focuses on the relationship between diplomacy and military forces, the issues of international security and armed conflicts. His research interests include also history of international relations in the 19th and 20th centuries, U.S. foreign policy and international relations in Sub-Saharan Africa.


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How to Cite

Kłosowicz, R. “The U.S. Marine As a Symbol of a Soldier and a Part of the American Myth”. Ad Americam, vol. 15, Dec. 2014, pp. 157-70, doi:10.12797/AdAmericam.15.2014.15.13.