Perhaps nothing expresses patriotism more than a parade—an Independence Day parade to be more specific. Old Glory and its honor guard lead the parade with the stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze. Following the flag is a band most likely playing The Stars and Stripes Forever.
The Stars and Stripes Forever is not only one of the most recognizable marches of all time but is the official march of the United States and one of the most popular marches by John Philip Sousa. I challenge anyone to listen to it and not feel a lump in the throat, a tear in the eye, or goose bumps on the arms. As popular as this tune is, it is only one of over 300 musical works composed by Sousa and only a third of those works were marches. It was composed during a voyage home after a tour of Europe and was reported in his obituary as one of his favorites. It was also the last piece he conducted the day before his death.
Other popular pieces composed by Sousa include Semper Fidelis (the Marine Corps march), The High School Cadets, King Cotton, El Capitan, Liberty Bell, Manhattan Beach, The Thunderer , Washington Post and many others.
Sousa was a man of many talents and was very prolific. In addition to his famous marches he also composed operettas; ten operas; a number of suites; The Last Crusade for orchestra, choir and organ, considered his major work; wrote three novels; a full-length autobiography; and was an avid trapshooter. He is known as the father of organized trapshooting in America.
A timeline of Sousa’s Life
John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6, 1854, the third of 10 children. He is a true product of the American melting pot, a child of immigrant parents. His father was born in Spain of Portuguese parents and his mother was born in Bavaria.
He began his musical studies at the age of 6 studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. It is said he had perfect pitch. When he was 13 his father enlisted him in the Marines as a musical apprentice to keep him from running away to join a circus band. (His father played trombone in the U.S. Marine band at the time.) In 1875 he was discharged from the Marines and began performing the violin with a touring company. He eventually took over as a conductor and conducted Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.
In 1880 he returned to Washington to be the leader of the U.S. Marine Band. He conducted The President’s own band serving under presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur and Harrison. In 1892 he resigned from the Marine band and formed the Sousa Band. In 1900 Sousa’s Band represented the United States as the official band to the Paris Exposition.
Between 1900 and 1905 The Sousa Band made three successful European tours. In 1910 the band took a World Tour which included New York, Great Britain, Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, and Canada. In 1917, during World War I, Sousa joined the U.S. Naval Reserve at age 62. He was a lieutenant and was paid a salary of $1 per month.
After the war, between 1919 and 1932 Sousa continued to tour with his band. He championed the cause of music education, received several honorary degrees and fought for composers’ rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.
Souse died March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pa. at the age of 77. According to his obituary he died of “an attack of heart disease.” He was in Reading to conduct the local Ringgold Band in its 80th anniversary concert as its guest conductor.
John Philip Sousa’s obituary
Also included in his obituary, as reported by the New York Times in an attempt to explain his musical career and patriotic enthusiasm, it said:
Mr. Sousa was born in Washington in 1854. The fact that his father was a musician and a member of the Marine Band which his son was later to lead, combined with the marital spirit of Civil War days of his youth in Washington, served to give his talent the bent which made him the “march king” to all the world for a quarter of a century.
Regarding Sousa’s service record the New York Times reported:
One thing on which Mr. Sousa prided himself was his service record, it being his boast that he had seen service with the army, the navy and the Marine Corps. The latter was represented by his service at the head of the White House Band. During the Spanish- American War he served as musical director for the Sixth Army Corps. In the World War he organized bands at the Naval Training Station at Great Lakes, Ill.
Sousa’s worldwide influence
Sousa’s influence even reached Broadway thirty years after his death. Meredith Wilson’s hit musical The Music Man had its roots in Wilson’s years playing flute and piccolo in Sousa’s band. Wilson’s band experience and small town Iowa roots inspired him to write the Broadway and motion picture hit The Music Man starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.
John Philip Sousa was the beloved March King of the U.S. and performed before over a million people. His influence was felt by many around the world and he was, perhaps, the best ambassador for America and its ideals during the early years of the twentieth century. During this Independence Day celebration you will hear several of Sousa’s compositions and I bet you, you can’t listen to them without tapping your toes and feeling an emotional stir in your soul. Hurrah for the flag of the free!
For an interesting read and to learn more about Sousa’s life click on the link below for The New York Times obituary from 1932.
Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and affordable entertainment and traveled to German Village to see the Actor’s Theatre presentation of Robin Hood at Schiller Park.
We packed a cooler and headed downtown. Knowing that the Freeway is under construction (when isn’t it?), we decided to take the Neil Ave. exit off of I-670. As soon as we had committed ourselves to that exit we knew we had made a mistake. We forgot that the hugely popular Com Fest was in full swing. Once we fought our way through that mess we found ourselves in another traffic jam. It seems the Clippers were playing that night. We patiently worked our way through the sports enthusiasts when we found ourselves, once again, in another line of cars snaking its way to the Picnic with the Pops.
We finally reached our destination at Schiller Park only to find another huge crowd gathering on the knoll of the amphitheatre. Fortunately, there is always room for one more at an outdoor event with lawn seating.
Mayor Coleman should be proud. He has worked for years to bring more activities and people to downtown Columbus. He has suffered some criticism for spending money on various buildings, parks, and improvements; but all the work has not been in vain. The beautiful new Columbus Commons, now the permanent home of Picnic with the Pops, looked to be almost to capacity with approximately 8,000 attending that night.
Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers, farm team for the Cleveland Indians, has won several awards. I’m not sure if it was a sell-out last Saturday night but my observation was that the event was well attended.
We weren’t able to drive past the new Scioto Riverfront Park but I’m sure there must have been many people strolling past the park and enjoying the beautiful gardens, fountains, swings and benches.
No matter your taste or background there was something for everyone that night. For the hippies, original hippies, and wanna’be hippies there was the Com Fest with all the rock music, tie dye T-shirts and miscellaneous stuff associated with that era you could absorb. Sports fans had the Clippers and for more sophisticated tastes there was Picnic with the Pops and Actor’s Theatre. A concert was happening at Promo West, CAPA’s summer movie series at the Ohio Theatre was presenting Hello Dolly, and many other people were enjoying a leisurely dinner at the various restaurants and on their patios.
This coming weekend there will be more of the same. Many venues will be finding various ways to celebrate the Fourth of July beginning with the traditional Red, White, and Boom celebration along the riverfront on July 3. The rejuvenated Ohio Village is planning an old-fashioned Independence Day celebration, CAPA’s summer movie series will have James Cagney’s Yankee Doodle Dandy and Picnic with the Pops will feature patriotic tunes including The Stars and Stripes Forever and The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
In addition to the downtown activities each local community usually has its own parade and fireworks so check local papers for the times. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, there is the Doo Dah Parade in the Short North the afternoon of the fourth.
Columbus is a happening place, whether downtown or in your own community. There is entertainment for every taste and budget whether it is running through the fountains at Easton or the splash park at the Scioto Mile, downing brats and beer at a ball park, or dinner and theatre at many of our excellent restaurants and venues. If you live in the Columbus area never say, “There’s nothing to do.”
NOTE—for a detailed schedule of events see Upcoming Events at www.homekeynotes.com.
As communities prepare for the big celebration of America’s independence, many people are voicing doubts over everything from whether or not candy should be thrown into the crowds lining parade routes to how many politicians can march in the parade or whether or not we should even celebrate our independence with parades and fireworks. I say Bah Humbug to all of the Scrooges!
I love everything about the 4th of July. I love the parades with the bands, countless American flags, endless number of politicians, civic organizations, boy scouts and girl scouts, swim teams, little league teams, neighborhood kids riding decorated bicycles, military units and honor guards, screaming fire engines, and miles of red, white, and blue crape paper. I love it all! This is true Americana—a microcosm of our nation passing before our eyes.
My heart swells with pride when the flag flutters in the breeze and I have a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat as military units and aging veterans go by. I can never hear the national anthem without choking back tears thinking of the many sacrifices made so I can stand proudly and proclaim I am an American. The business of politics can get pretty nasty but I am thankful I live where we can openly voice our disagreements without fear of imprisonment or death.
I admire the immigrants who left everything behind to come to a new land. I wonder what my ancestors endured coming to this country. I think of my original ancestor who was brought to these shores to fight for King George in 1774 but became a turncoat and fought for the colonists under Col. Washington. What motivated him to make such a bold move? I find a hint in the family history that was recorded the 14th Day of January 1933. It reads:
Great Grandfather Moore, whose name was James Moore was born near Dublin, Ireland, and came to this country with a regiment of Irish soldiers, attached to the British Army during the Revolutionary War. In fact, his name was not Moore, but Fitzpatrick, but being Irish, and not at all in sympathy with the British, but knowing the methods of the British in his homeland, he lost no time in leaving the British cause and enlisting in the Continental Army under Washington, and took the maiden name of his Mother, which was Moore. Since that time the name of Moore has been borne by all of his descendents.
This country has always been the land of immigrants, the melting pot of nations, and I am puzzled at the animosity toward certain groups. Each ethnic wave that came here endured a certain amount of prejudice but still people came. I am happy to say I have friends from many different nations and I call it my smorgasbord of friends. We have joyfully celebrated as each one has taken the big step to become a citizen. Over the years I have known people from Cuba, Mexico, Germany, and China who took the oath to become naturalized citizens. One of our country’s newest citizens is our neighbor, Shaheena Arthur from Pakistan, who became a citizen on June 21. She was so excited to become a citizen and our small group of neighbors who helped her celebrate was happy for her.
So bring on the parades, the bands, the flags, and the politicians. Bring on the beer, brats, and burgers and cap off the night with a grand display of fireworks. This is our nation’s birthday, its celebration of independence, and this is how we celebrate. We cannot let this momentous occasion be lost to history for if we don’t celebrate then it will be forgotten. It is a way of bringing everyone together to celebrate something we all believe in—the greatness of our nation.
Somehow we have all learned to live together and combine our many experiences to forge one great nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.