Nearly 500 current and former Marines gathered together in the largest mass Marine formation in New York City’s history, to celebrate the Marine Corps Reserve Centennial at Times Square, Aug. 29, 2016.

The “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” formation is one of the many kick-off events taking place in New York to mark the start of a yearlong celebration of the Marine Corps Reserve’s 100 years of service to the Corps and the community. The formation brought together Marines from World War II to the present, including members of the New York Police and Fire Departments, community members and possible future Marines, to honor 100 years of selfless dedication to their country.

“The presence of these Marines is a reminder to our county that our nation’s most treasured resources are the brave men and women who volunteered to serve when this country calls,” said Lt. Gen. Rex C. McMillian, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North. “With us today are New York’s finest and bravest, from the police officers to the firefighters of New York, these brave men and women are on watch protecting our citizens. This gathering is a reminder to all Marines who ever served, that you are still a member of the Corps.”

The anniversary celebration highlights the achievement and history of the Reserve throughout the years and their commitment not only to their nation but to balancing a life in the Corps and civilian world. It recognizes that Marines continue their roles in the community whether they are currently serving in the Corps or in their civilian lives.

“We are all Marines at the end of the day — once a Marine, always a Marine — so it was good to bring us all together in formation,” said Cpl. Prince Mends, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 25. “Since we are Reserve Marines it is good to show up and show who we are, what we do, and why we are celebrating 100 years of the Reserve.”

The Reserve continues to serve selflessly to protect their nation while they balance the responsibilities of family, school, community and careers. Even while balancing their two lives, the Reserve Marines are a key component to the Marine Corps, as they serve as the nation’s crisis response force and expeditionary force in readiness. They are continually ready to support and augment the active duty Marines whenever it is asked of them.

“Our role is to back up the active duty component, they go in for long deployments then we step in to help when they need a break,” said Mends. “We are very strong in what we do, so we back them up and push them forward.”

To complete the celebration, potential new recruits stood before the formation and community and took the oath of enlistment to join the Marine Corps. Whether it is to serve on active duty or in the reserves, they are taking their first steps into a service with unmatched heritage and tradition. They represent a look to the future, and hope to become the Marines who will carry on the next 100 years of service and tradition.

Today, approximately 500 Reserve Marines are providing fully integrated global operational support to the Fleet and Combatant Commanders. For information on the history and heritage of the Marine Corps Reserve as well as current Marine stories and upcoming Centennial events, please visit www.marines.mil/usmcr100.