Mess Night – A tradition dating back to the days of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The purpose of mess night is to recognize and pay homage to the Marines who came before. A chance, as a band of brothers, to socialize with one another in their “best dress”.
A Marine is assigned charge of the flow of the events or “president of the mess”. The vice-president of the mess, or ‘Mr. Vice,’ as the title has come to be known, acts as the enforcer of the president’s decisions and also regulates who may speak to the president. Invited guests are also part of the group. The remainder of the participants make up the mess. They are the heart of the event, and are expected to pay fines (which serve as ‘tip’ for the servers) as the president sees fit for issues brought up by the mess men.
During the formal meal portion of the mess night, members of the mess have the opportunity to charge another mess man with a fine if he has a legitimate reason to. If the mess member makes a good case, the president fines the guilty party a certain amount that he sees fit, or forces the defendant to perform a show for the mess, Watkins said. The president also forces certain members of the mess to perform dares or stunts.
Other procedures also go into the tradition of mess night. It starts with a social hour where Marines of the mess have drinks with one another as while meeting the guests. The formalities of mess night begin when the mess marches in, followed by the head table guests. Then the fun of mess night begins with the meal. Marines of the mess sit down to a formal dinner, normally Prime Rib. During this time, Marines bring forth outrageous situations to be fined.
An intermission will then sound after the mess portion of the night (which is the first time a Marine is allowed to use the bathroom without fining), followed by the toasts given by members of the mess. Tributes are given to battles Marines have fought in the past as well as the future. The toast is the heart of the night, it pays honor and respect to all the campaigns the Marine Corps has fought in. The final toast is always to the success of the Marine Corps.
“Mess night builds knowledge on customs and courtesies, as well as camaraderie, one of its purposes is to build Esprit de Corps, and until you’re a part of one it doesn’t mean much.” (USMC, about.com)
Joe’s first mess night ~
If I had one word to sum it all up in? Handsome:) He had an awesome time, and everyone had lots of fun! The rest of the photos are on our kodak photoshare, it you would like them just email me. Just a couple more days until graduation, I know that he’s so excited!