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The Meaning Behind the U.S. Military Mottos

Published on
June 6, 2024 at 3:21:14 PM PDT June 6, 2024 at 3:21:14 PM PDTth, June 6, 2024 at 3:21:14 PM PDT

The American armed forces are the greatest defenders of freedom in the world. The brave men and women serving in all branches of the military put their lives on the line every day, doing whatever it takes to keep our country free.


While they all have the same goal, each military branch has a unique purpose and, with it, a distinctive slogan. In this article, we'll explore the special meaning behind each military slogan so you can gain a deeper respect for the rich history and everlasting importance of America's armed forces. 

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History of the Military Slogans 

Have you ever wondered how each branch of the armed forces got its slogan? The practice dates back to the Revolutionary War. General George Washington wanted to differentiate each fighting regiment, so he came up with the idea to create mottos.


He declared, "It is necessary that every Regiment should be furnished with Colours [and the] number of the Regiment is to be mark'd on the Colours and such a Motto, as the Colonel may choose in fixing upon which, the General advisors a consultation amongst them." Although, at the time of his writing, not all branches of the military existed, mottos eventually became an integral part of each service branch's identity and personality.


While the military slogans for the main branches are the most well-known, they're not the only ones used by the armed forces. Many individual units have their own mottos, and each military branch also has a separate recruitment motto used in advertisements, distinct from the overall organization's motto.


Using a recruitment slogan has long been a way to inspire brave men and women to enlist for military service. The U.S. Army has some of the most memorable recruitment mottos. During World War I, a poster featuring Uncle Sam stated, "I Want YOU for the U.S. Army." Over the years, the Army evolved its slogan to align with its core values with notable sayings like "Army Strong" and "Be all you can be."


Today, military slogans are used as a call to action. No matter the branch, a strong motto embodies the ideals and purpose of our brave armed forces.


What are the Official Slogans for Each Military Branch


Learning the history of the mottos used for each military branch is an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of their national significance. While each slogan is different, they all hold equal importance for inspiring devotion, bravery, and pride in the men and women who dedicate their lives to service.


U.S. Army - This We'll Defend


The Army's slogan, "This we'll defend," dates back almost 250 years to the Revolutionary War. The phrase was first used in 1778 by the Continental Congress's war office and has long been the defining characteristic of brave servicemembers. It is now proudly displayed in the United States Army emblem, holding a place of prominence and serving as a reminder that soldiers are always ready to defend and preserve peace and freedom.


Within this branch, the Army Special Forces, an exclusive branch of soldiers, touts another motto: De Oppresso Liber, meaning "To free the oppressed." This slogan is used during special operations as a call to action and a reminder of the great responsibility these soldiers possess.


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U.S. Marine Corps - Semper Fidelis


The USMC motto, Semper Fidelis, is one of the most recognizable. A Latin phrase meaning "Always faithful," it represents a poignant and powerful sentiment: once a Marine, always a Marine. Interestingly, the Marine Corps didn't receive its first slogan until 1883, even though it was founded in 1775. Semper Fidelis, or Semper Fi for short, is used in many ways as motivation, a greeting, and an expression uniting all Marines.

While not the "official" slogan, another motto commonly associated with the United States Marine Corps is "The few, the proud, the Marines," which has been used as their recruitment motto since 1977.


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U.S. Navy - No Official Slogan


Interestingly, the U.S. Navy is the only military branch that has no official slogan. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't use a meaningful motto. Non-Sibi Sed Patriae, meaning "Not for self but for country," is the Navy's unofficial slogan and helps guide officers and sailors. The phrase itself dates back to the ancient Roman empire, where numerous military units used it as a reminder to put aside one's own interests for the good of the country and its citizens.


As with the Army's slogan, this motto gained popularity in the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, before being unofficially adopted by the Navy. Today, you can find it written above the chapel doors in the U.S. Naval Academy as a reminder of each sailor's commitment to service.


Another unofficial motto of the U.S. Navy is Semper Fortis. Semper Fortis means "Always courageous," a brave and honorable sentiment for one of our country's most revered military branches.


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U.S. Air Force - Aim High...Fly-Fight-Win


The United States Air Force motto is unique because it was voted on by Airmen and chosen by the branch as a whole. It showcases pride of service and has two purposes: to represent a call to action and a response of commitment.


In 2010, the Air Force set out to change its motto with the goal of getting as much input as possible from its Airmen. The Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz stated, "We took the time to try to get this right. A service motto belongs to those who serve, and we've done our best to give voice to how Airmen feel about serving this nation."


Since the creation of the motto involved extensive research, polling, and input, it's incredibly meaningful and connects Airmen across the world with a common purpose.


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U.S. Space Force - Semper Supra


Although it's the newest branch of the military, the U.S. Space Force takes its motto just as seriously. Its slogan, Semper Supra, means "Always above," and perfectly encapsulates the task of protecting America's satellites and space domain are safe. Adding a motto to the branch was another step toward establishing a strong sense of individualism and pride among its servicemembers. As it continues to grow, the U.S. Space Force will continue the long honor of keeping Americans safe from threats and preserving space-based operational freedom.


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U.S. Coast Guard - Semper Paratus 

Although the exact date when the U.S. Coast Guard chose its motto, Semper Paratus, is unknown, it became an integral part of the branch's identity in 1922, when Captain Francis Saltus Van Boskerck used the phrase in what would become the official marching song. The slogan means "Always ready" and exemplifies the heart and soul of the Coast Guardsmen who defend our country's shores.


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U.S. National Guard - Always Ready, Always There


The U.S. National Guard was established in 1636, making it the oldest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The brave men and women serving in the National Guard work tirelessly both internationally and domestically to protect and aid Americans at any moment, which is why their motto, "Always ready, always there," is so meaningful. Their dedication to service is an integral part of maintaining our country's freedom.


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Commemorate with Carrot-Top's Military Products


Carrot-Top offers the largest selection of high-quality military-themed flags, banners, and memorabilia. Our American-made products are crafted to the highest standards to last the test of time. Our flags and flag sets are officially licensed and align with the strict specifications demanded for military displays.


Carrot-Top Supports Our Armed Forces 

Carrot-Top is proud to support the honor, courage, commitment, and dedication of the military community. We regularly donate to numerous armed forces organizations that carry flags like the Lest They Be Forgotten Flag, with proceeds going to help service members and veterans nationwide. Explore our wide selection of vibrant and meaningful military flags today.