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If you’re at formation 15 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re actually late, maybe you’ll find yourself celebrating Earth Day, even if it’s not actually Earth Day. And you’ll do it by conducting the essential task of area beautification.  

That’s how formations work in the Marine Corps, and that might explain how Marines at Camp Johnson, North Carolina ended up celebrating Earth Day on March 22 — a full month before the actual holiday — by police calling the grounds.

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Grass? Raked.

The Marine Corps celebrated Earth Day a month early with a police call
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joseph D. Garcia, an Administrative Specialist with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) rakes leaves during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson, N.C. March 22, 2022. To commemorate Earth Day 2022, MCCSSS organized a physical, tangible and immediate benefit to remove safety hazards, improve the environment, and return Camp Johnson to its natural state for all personnel who train, work and live aboard the camp. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jaiden O. Sangster)

Leaves? Blown.

The Marine Corps celebrated Earth Day a month early with a police call
U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Leslie Ponce, an Administrative Specialist with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) blows leaves during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson, N.C. March 22, 2022. To commemorate Earth Day 2022, MCCSSS organized a physical, tangible and immediate benefit to remove safety hazards, improve the environment, and return Camp Johnson to its natural state for all personnel who train, work and live aboard the camp. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jaiden O. Sangster)

Knife hands? Deployed.

The Marine Corps celebrated Earth Day a month early with a police call
U.S. Marines with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) clear out large debris during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson, N.C. March 22, 2022. To commemorate Earth Day 2022, Marines of MCCSSS organized the removal of safety hazards, trash, and maintained Camp Johnson’s state of cleanliness. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tanner M. Pittard)

All manner of arboreal detritus? Bagged, tagged and disposed of.

Marines Leaves
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua T. Pulda, left, and Cpl. Jezzelle K. Rivera, Administrative Specialists with Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools (MCCSSS) disposes leaves during a base-wide clean-up on Camp Johnson, N.C. March 22, 2022. To commemorate Earth Day 2022, MCCSSS organized a physical, tangible and immediate benefit to remove safety hazards, improve the environment, and return Camp Johnson to its natural state for all personnel who train, work and live aboard the camp. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jaiden O. Sangster)

To quote a Marine Corps news story on their festive police call, this operation provided a “physical, tangible and immediate benefit to remove safety hazards, improve the environment, and return Camp Johnson to its natural state.” 

Natural state presumably means when there is nary a leaf or painted rock out of place. 

Is Earth Day technically in April? Yes. Is Earth Day, with its removal of tree limbs and cutting of grass, the definitive holiday of choice for the global sergeants major community? Possibly. Is there room on the training calendar for an Earth Day celebration every week? Almost certainly.

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