Chicago, The City of Broad Shoulders, saw a lot of broad shoulders from 11-17 May as the US Marine Corps blew into the Windy City to give residents a close-up look at today’s Corps during the service’s inaugural Marine Week.

Hundreds of Marines performed community services tasks such as cleaning up parks, assisting with Habitat for Humanity projects and rehabbing community centers; they also visited schools, participated in sporting events, exhibited the latest in Marine equipment such as the V-22 Osprey and demonstrated Marine skills such as martial arts. On Sunday 17 May, a group of Marines staged a mock raid in the city’s popular Arlington
Park racetrack complex, complete with Ospreys landing and troops fanning out.

The previous evening at Navy Pier, the Marine Corps League hosted a VIP reception keynoted by an address from General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret), who was the 32nd Commandant of the Corps and serves now as National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama. Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent, and LtGen. Ronald S. Coleman, Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs were also among the guests who included local political figures and many members of Chicagoland and Illinois Marine Corps League Detachments.

Local Leaguers were deeply involved in the planning and implementation of events, assisting the active duty Marines wherever necessary. Their scarlet jackets and caps – known as “covers” in Marine parlance – stood out in the crowds. It was a chance for these veterans to spend time getting to know some of today’s Leathernecks who carry on the Corps’ proud legacy.

The week-long event was an opportunity for Chicagoans to meet the individuals who make the Marine Corps, said Chicago native Brig. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, commanding general, Training and Education Command, in Quantico, VA. “The idea of Marine Week is to get the major cities in America exposed to the Marine Corps,” said General Spiese. “We couldn’t find a better place to kick this thing off. We are America’s Marine Corps.”

“This is a Marine Corps town, it’s a very popular part of the military here,” said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in opening the week-long event on 11 May. “You’ll see it all week, there is a great history of Marine Corps families in Chicago.”

Plans are in the works for the next Marine Week scheduled for this fall in Boston.