Special Report

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

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

25. Song of the Patriot
> Author: Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins
> Year written: 1981

No one does patriotic songs like country and western performers, and front and center was Johnny Cash. In “Song of the Patriot,” Cash left no doubt where he stood: “I’m a flag waving patriotic nephew of my Uncle Sam, a rough riding fighting Yankee man. I love mom and apple pie and the freedoms that we all enjoy, across this beautiful land.”

Source: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

24. Fanfare for the Common Man
> Author: Aaron Copland
> Year written: 1942

“Fanfare for the Common Man” is among the most widely known pieces of American classical music. Aaron Copland wrote the piece to rally Americans against fascism during World War II. The song has been used to open Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones concerts and has been covered by rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The song has also been played for presidents and at the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Source: John Moore / Getty Images

23. The Army Goes Rolling Along
> Author: Edmund Louis “Snitz” Gruber
> Year written: 1908

“The Army Goes Rolling Along” became the U.S. Army’s official anthem in 1956. The song’s origins go back to 1908, when Brigadier General Edmund Louis Gruber wrote “The Caissons Go Rolling Along.” Gruber, a descendent of Franz Gruber, who composed “Silent Night,” based the song on his experience while he was stationed in the Philippines.

Source: Pool / Getty Images

22. The Marines’ Hymn
> Author: Unknown
> Year written: N/A

The origin of the music to the “Marines’ Hymn” is a march in a comic opera from composer Jacques Offenbach. There is nothing comical about the lyrics, which recount Marine victories during the Mexican-American War and the war against pirates of the Barbary States. It is not known for certain who wrote the lyrics, which were first printed in a Marine Corps magazine in 1919. Some verses have been credited to Colonel Henry C. Davis.

Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

21. Wild Blue Yonder (U.S. Air Force Song)
> Author: Robert Crawford
> Year written: 1947

Brigadier General H. “Hap” Arnold started a song-writing contest to create an anthem for the U.S. Army Air Corps to help establish an identity for the predecessor of the U.S. Air Force. Among those who submitted entries were composers Meredith Willson, whose credits would include the musical smash “The Music Man,” and the incomparable Irving Berlin. Neither composer would win. In the end, the winning entry was from Canadian-born amateur pilot Robert Crawford.

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