On November 10th ViacomCBS VetNet and the greater Military and Veteran Community celebrated the 245th Marine Corps Birthday Ball! While the NYC Marine Birthday Gala is usually held on the Intrepid Museum, this year heralded in a more flexible approach, and Marines, of all people, know how to adapt and overcome! This year, ViacomCBS had the privilege to produce the first-ever virtual Annual NYC Marine Ball Gala, co-hosted by Gerry Byrne of Penske Media, Team Rubicon’s co-founder, Jake Wood, and the Headstrong Project’s founder, Zach Iscol.
The virtual gala aired on Pluto TV, and featured messages from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger; the former Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis; former Joint Chief of Staff, General Joseph Dunford; and the General Tax Counsel of ViacomCBS, Army Ranger Veteran, and VetNet’s own Chief Veteran Officer, Richard Jones; as well as many celebrity well-wishers.
The program showcased many of the beloved Birthday Ball traditions: the reading of Major General John LeJeune’s Order No. 47, the passing cake from the oldest Marine in attendance to the youngest to symbolize the passing of knowledge, the Marine Corps Hymn, and the Color Guard.
The Gala also offered newer twists exclusive to this NYC event: the 2020 Marine for Life award was presented to General Joseph Dunford, and the first ever “David Dinkins’ Vanguard Honor” award honored the Montford Point Marines – America’s first black Marines – of which former NYC Mayor David Dinkins was one.
The Ball has always been a time of celebration and Marine Corps team building, and in these difficult times when an in-person gala was not possible, our virtual showcase reached more viewers in one night than it previously ever had as an in-person Gala. That is more celebrants this year alone, than in all the previous years combined!
Our virtual Marine Birthday Gala was a welcome respite from these rough few months, and a time of togetherness despite our distance. In addition to impacting as many people as this event did, once we factor in the sense of community that this event fostered in our homes and hearts, it’s true reach and impact was immeasurable.
A heartfelt "Thank You" and "Happy Birthday" to our Beloved Marine Corps.