Back-to-Back Celebrations for MCJROTC: USMC Birthday Ball Revival, Veteran’s Day

Posted November 10, 2023 / Last updated November 13, 2023

Print Print Email Email Share Share

U.S. Marine Corp Birthday Ball

On November 4, 2023, the Jesuit MCJROTC, accompanied by their families and guests, convened in the Student Commons to commemorate the United States Marine Corps’ 248th birthday. This occasion marked the revival of the MCJROTC ball tradition. The gathering showcased a performance by the MCJROTC Band, the nation’s oldest of its kind, a customary cake-cutting ceremony acknowledging the youngest and oldest cadets, the guest of honor speech, dinner, and dancing.

Since November 1, 1921, the Marine Corps birthday celebration, initiated by then-Commandant Gen. John A. LeJeune, has been a poignant reminder of the Corps’ service achievements. Annually, Marines across the globe assemble to honor the Corps’ inception with a traditional birthday cake-cutting ceremony. Jesuit’s MCJROTC continues this tradition by hosting a ceremony for the cadets’ friends and family.


This year’s event also spotlighted the senior cadets, who were escorted into the event by their parents. Following the seniors, the guest of honor, Jesuit’s chemistry teacher Monica Younger, made her entrance. Younger, the mother of alumni Evan ’19 and Maxwell ’21, recently completed her 22nd year teaching high school chemistry, which includes her 8th year at Jesuit. She spoke about the significance of the MCJROTC program to Jesuit’s history, her personal life, and her sons’ experiences as cadets at Jesuit.

Subsequent to Younger’s address, the focus shifted to the cake-cutting ceremony. Tradition mandates that the guest of honor receives the first piece of cake, followed by the oldest and youngest cadets. In the 2023 school year, the second piece was presented to Cadet Second Lieutenant Harrison Harley, born on May 24, 2005, and the third piece was given to Cadet Private First Class Alex Degenhart, born on September 20, 2010.

Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner and dancing. We extend our gratitude to all who attended the ceremony.

Veterans Day Morning Assembly

On Friday, Nov. 10, Jesuit students and faculty enjoyed a special presentation by the MCJROTC program during Morning Assembly, commemorating Veterans Day. The assembly began with prayer, followed by the MCJROTC band performing the national anthem, while the color guard presented the colors.

Following the announcements and results, LtCol Craig Himel ’91 explained that significance of the Veterans Day. He informed the student body that the major hostilities of World War I formally ended at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, with the Armistice with Germany. After 1954, it has come to be a day to honor all veterans who served in our country’s military and fought in our nation’s wars. November 11, 2023, marks the 105th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I.

LtCol Himel then concluded assembly by taking a moment to recognize those members of the Jesuit community who have served in our nation’s armed forces:

  • Science Teacher, Pam Catalano, Staff Sergeant, Louisiana Air National Guard (1986-1993)
  • Senior Marine Instructor, LtCol Craig Himel ’91, U. S. Marine Corps (1997-2021)
  • Director of Security, Alex Norman, US Army/Army National Guard (1985-1991) 
  • Marine Instructor, Master Gunnery Sergeant J.R. Piseno, U. S. Marine Corps (1979-2006)
  • Maintenance & Facilities Director, David Sansone, U. S. Marine Corps Reserve (1980-1986)
  • Maintenance Staff Personnel, Carl Smith, Petty Officer 3rd Class, U. S. Navy (1990-1994)
  • Athletic Trainer, Kenneth Trahan, Army National Guard (1997-2003) 

Jesuit extends its gratitude to all veterans for their distinguished service.