Aug 052013
 
StarsandStripesForeverCover

Oh, I really got carried away this time. I created a video to accompany this post!

What an uplifting tune, and it just happens to be our national march. Title 36, Section 304 of the US Code states that “The composition by John Philip Sousa entitled ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ is the national march.” 

John Philip Sousa grew up in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. His father was a trombone player in the U.S. Marine Band. He played the violin as a child and had dreams of playing in a circus band. That idea did not go over well with his parents. They convinced him, at the ripe old age of 13, to become an apprentice musician with the Marine Band. In 1875, he was discharged from the Marines. He returned to the Band in 1880 as its leader and remained in that role until 1892. During that time, he composed many well-known pieces, including Semper Fidelis, which are sure to be featured in future posts. 

Sousa left the Marine Band in again in 1892 and became known as “America’s March King.” He wrote in his biography that he composed “The Stars and Stripes Forever” on Christmas Day in 1896. The tune for the song came to him while he was a passenger on the S.S. Teutonic. He was returning home from Europe upon learning of the death of his band manager and friend, David Blakely. He did not commit the song to paper until docking in New York. At that time he “set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed.” The song was well received when it debuted in a performance on May 14, 1897 by Sousa’s band in Willow Grove Park. His band continued to play the song at most every performance over the course of the next 25 years. It was actually the last piece that Sousa conducted during his final rehearsal with his band in 1932.

As I previously noted in a post about the rose becoming our national flower, such designations often take years to pass through the Congress. So it was with our national march. A joint resolution in the 94th Congress designating the song as our national march was proposed on July 22, 1976, but the proposal stagnated in committee. Similar resolutions were proposed, but not voted upon, in the 95th and 96th Congresses. It was not until the 100th Congress that action finally was taken. On December 11, 1987, President Reagan signed legislation originally proposed by David Boren (D) in the Senate and James Quillen (R) in the House which designated “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as our national march. 

I was able to find an audio file of John Philip Sousa’s band playing “The Stars and Stripes Forever” in 1909, and it inspired me to create a video that you can enjoy. It also is a great teaching tool to use with your children or grandchildren. It’s my first attempt at a video. Please take a look, and let me know what you think! There are two versions. If you just want a taste of the song, here is a link to the two minute video: http://youtu.be/SpeE36YASHo If you would like to listen to the entire song, or have sufficient time to read through the vocal score for the song, then watch the four minute video: http://youtu.be/B7pL-vPeQEw. The four minute video has been attached to this post.

Yes, you read that correctly, Sousa actually wrote lyrics for “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. Although I have never heard the lyrics sung along with the music, I found them to be quite inspirational: 

[First Strain]
Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

[Second Strain]
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

[Repeats]
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.

[Trio]
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

[Repeat of the First Strain]
Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

[Grandioso]
Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever. 

If you don’t have time to watch the video, I have created a page about “The Stars and Stripes Forever” on my website:http://www.bingoforpatriots.com/promoting-patriotism-project/patriotic-songs/stars-and-stripes-forever/

Please take a moment today to celebrate What IS Right With America!

Susan

Susan C. Rempel, Ph.D.

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