Detachment 1328

Marine Corps Emblem & Seal

Eagle, Globe and Anchor


The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is the official emblem of the United States Marine Corps. The current emblem traces its roots in the designs and ornaments of the early Continental Marines as well as the British Royal Marines. The present emblem, adopted in 1966, differs only by a change in the eagle from the emblem of 1868. Before that time many devices, ornaments, and distinguishing marks followed one another as official badges of the Corps.

In 1776, the device consisted of a fouled anchor of silver or pewter. 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 3.5 inches (89 mm) from wingtip to wingtip. An eagle clutching a fouled anchor with thirteen stars was found on uniform buttons starting in 1804. This early insignia is found on the buttons of Marine dress and service uniforms today, with the six-pointed stars changed to five-pointed stars.

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

The emblem recommended by the 1868 board consisted of a globe (showing the Western Hemisphere) intersected by a fouled 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 Royal Marines' "Globe and Laurel." The globe on the U.S. Marine emblem signifies continuing historical service in any part of the world. The eagle represents the nation of the United States. The anchor, whose origin dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, acknowledges the naval tradition of the United States Marines and their continual service under the command of the Department of the Navy.

The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor can also symbolize the three elements in which the Marines operate; they are the only service that frequently see action in land, sea, and air. For example, the Army and Air Force may see action in the air and on the ground, but not the sea, with the Navy seeing action in the air and at sea, but not normally on ground.

There are slight differences between the enlisted and officer's emblem. The enlisted emblem is entirely gold, while the officer's emblem incorporates silver and gold. The officer's emblem is also marginally larger than the enlisted's emblem with the anchor's chain positioned differently than on the enlisted's emblem. Finally, Cuba is not present on the officer's emblem, since commissioned officers emblem is more elaborate and the Cuba piece would not stay affixed.

On June 22, 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 Eagle, Globe, and Anchor 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" (Always Faithful) with the hemisphere superimposed on a fouled 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.