USMC Pinning at the Marine Corps War Memorial
I love being apart of the Marine Corps (by association of course).
I was able to photograph this USMC pinning ceremony solely because close community stretched across the globe. A friend from Okinawa, knew this family from TBS (The Basic School) 10 years ago, who was looking for a photographer in the DC area. A call on Facebook and bam, we connected.
Table of Contents
What is a Pinning Ceremony?
A Pinning Ceremony is a promotion. The service member was previously selected to be promoted in his branch of service and the US Congress approved the promotion. Every month a predetermined batch of Marines are promoted to their next rank.
Why is it called a Pinning Ceremony?
It’s called a Pinning Ceremony because its when the service member pins on the new rank insignia for the first time. Part of the ceremony is taking off the old rank and pinning on the new, usually done by a spouse, parent, child or mentor.
When the ceremony is done in cammies (some call it fatigues), the rank insignia is changed out on on the collar. When done in dress blues, the rank insignia is changed on the shoulder boards.
What happens during a pinning or promotion ceremony?
The pinning ceremony is quite short. All you need is the service member, a promoting officer, and someone to read the citation. Usually family or friends do the actually pinning.
Most of the time these quick ceremonies happen in a public space. It begins with opening remarks from the promoting officer, followed by reading the citation. The service member takes the oath and receives the new rank. After that the service member typically speaks, and is usually followed with food, drinks, and getting off work early.
Saturday at the Marine Corps War Memorial
The thing about a War Memorial on a Saturday is tour busses – full and frequent! Just about every bus was full of Veterans. Seeing three Marines in their Blues got them excited! They were celebrities shaking hands and taking photos with everyone.
After ceremony and group photos, another tour bus rolled in. It was an Honor Flight with a Veteran of Iwo Jima! Iwo Jima is what inspired the USMC War Memorial… and the movie Flags of Our Fathers. Scroll to the bottom to see their meet & greet!
Fun Photo Fact
Side note: Photographically speaking it’s been argued that had the flag pole in the original image not be at angle (ie if i was completely vertical or completely horizontal), the image would not have sparked such support and patriotism that it did. Its the action of the angled line that gives it power and gusto
USMC Pinning Ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial
A pinning ceremony is when someone is promoted, pinning on new rank. (Do other services call it something else??) In this particular ceremony Maj Constance was being promoted from Captain (Company Grade) to Major (Field Grade) which included change his cover (hat) from Company Grade to Field Grade.
Family gets to participate – or whoever the Marine decides/ask to pin him. Usually senior personnel or a spouse does the pinning (because there’s two rank pins – one on each side). In many cases a son or daughter participates too. In this case it was all three.
Most pinnings are done in a conference room with immediate family. Or maybe in a field over looking the Pacific Ocean if you’re Okinawa. My hub’s was under the armory shelter where they clean the weapons.
This one wins for pomp and circumstance!
See More Military Ceremony Photo Inspiration
At the end of a career, all that will be left are the photos and uniforms. I pray you have photos! If not for yourself, for your kids.
USMC Pinning Photos at the War Memorial In Washington, DC
More ideas for Military Photography
- Featured: I’m Possible Spousely Podcast
- Easy Marine Corps Retirement Ceremony | USS Missouri Events
- Easy Marine Corps Retirement Ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps
- Military Uniform Photos: No Ceremony Required
- Change of Command Ceremony Naval Air Station Oceana
- Navy Aviation Homecoming
I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus. They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!