Special Report

The Origin of America’s National Anthems, Songs, and Marches

When we listen to songs extolling America, these marches, anthems, and tunes about the United States aren’t about expressing some singular ethnic identity or celebrating the grandeur of the monarchy. These songs are about freedom, liberty, and opportunity, about the physical beauty of the country, about the sacrifice our military has made, and the struggle to keep the nation united to ensure that the American experiment endures.

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of songs about America’s national anthems and other patriotic songs. We reviewed sources such as the Library of Congress website and various lists about songs and lyrics to create our list.

The flag of the United States goes by different names — The Stars and Stripes; The Red, White, and Blue; Old Glory; and The Star-Spangled Banner. Regardless of what it is called, the American flag is one of the most recognizable symbols of any country in the world, and it has many former versions. This is the history of every former U.S. flag.

Click here to read about the history behind each of America’s national anthems and songs

As Americans, we learn many of these songs — like “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” — while in grade school, and these songs continue to stir patriotic fervor each time we hear them.

On our list are some of the great American songwriters and composers of all time, including Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, John Philip Sousa, and Aaron Copland. But you’ll also find more contemporary artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Lee Greenwood, and Neil Diamond on our list.

Not all of the composers on this list are flag wavers. Folk singer Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” celebrated the physical virtues of the nation and reminded listeners that America belonged to all of us, not just the wealthy.

If there is one theme these songs have in common, it is their message of hope and the belief that America is a place like no other.

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