John Philip Sousa and The Stars and Stripes Forever

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.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1106.html

 

 

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American IQ: Questions from U.S. citizenship test challenge your patriotic acumen | The Columbus Dispatch

Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test? Here are a few questions from Joe Blundo’s column testing your American IQ. Click on the link below

 

American IQ: Questions from U.S. citizenship test challenge your patriotic acumen | The Columbus Dispatch.

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Don’t say there’s nothing to do

 

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.

 

English: Man riding a monowheel in the 2011 Do...

English: Man riding a monowheel in the 2011 Doo Dah Parade, Columbus, Ohio. Parade route viewed on W. 2nd Ave. in The Short North. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

http://capa.com/presentations/current-season-presentations/capa-summer-movie-series-2012

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Fly the flag proudly

 Today, June 14, 235 years ago the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official symbol of our country. Up until that time several different flags were used including one with 13 alternating red and white stripes and the Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner which was a compromise between the radicals who wanted a separate nation and those more sympathetic toward the crown.

Gen. Washington felt it wasn’t a good idea to fly a flag that resembled that of the enemy and asked the Continental Congress to adopt an official flag. On June 14, 1777 they passed a resolution stating “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Legend states that Betsy Ross made the first flag but there is no official documentation of who came up with the design and whether or not she actually made the first flag. In 1870 her grandson, William Canby,  held a press conference telling of her possible role in the creation of the first flag. This was the first time the public had heard of her contribution.

Defining the flag’s look

The flag took on various shapes through the years as new states were added and in 1818 Congress passed an act providing for 13 stripes in honor of the 13 original colonies and one star for each state. In 1912 President William Howard Taft signed an executive order that clarified what the flag should look like. Up until that time some flags were oddly proportioned or had six or eight pointed stars instead of five.

Flag Day was first observed by a Wisconsin teacher, Bernard Cigrand in 1885. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day and in 1949 President Harry Truman signed legislation officially designating June 14 as National Flag Day.

Ohio plays a part in final design

A young Ohio student played a part in the final design of today’s 50 star flag. In 1960  seventeen year old Bob Heft borrowed his mother’s sewing machine and added two more stars to the original 48. Alaska had just been added to the union and he foresaw that Hawaii would soon follow. He stitched 50 stars in a proportional pattern and handed it in to his history teacher for a class project. He also sent the flag to his congressman, Walter Moeller, who then presented it to President Eisenhower after both states joined the union. The President chose Heft’s design and on July 4, 1960 Heft and President Eisenhower stood together as the 50 star flag was raised for the first time. Heft’s teacher changed his grade from a B- to an A.

Proper flag etiquette

  •      The flag should always be displayed with the stars in the upper left corner—whether it is hung vertically or horizontally.
  •       The flag should always be illuminated either by sunlight or another light source while on display.
  •       The flag should always be kept aloft and never touch the ground.
  •        The flag should never appear on clothing, bedding, or decorative items.
  •        No insignias, drawings or other markings should be added to the flag.
  •        When other flags are flown on the same pole Old Glory should be at the peak.
  •        Old flags should be properly destroyed by burning.
  •        When not on display the flag should be folded in a rectangular manner with the star-studded field on top.

 Respect the flag

I wish more people would follow the proper flag etiquette. Nothing disturbs me more than to see the flag improperly displayed or thrown on the ground, or, even worse—thrown in the trash. Remember, many have died protecting that flag and what it stands for and it should always be treated with the respect it deserves.

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Why we need to keep arts in the schools

I recently attended my granddaughter’s spring orchestra concert and was amazed at the progress of the young middle school and high school students. The program featured the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, who each played three or four selection, in the first half and the high school students in the second half. By presenting the show in this manner we were able to see the gradual increased proficiency of each grade.

Even the sixth graders had progressed far beyond the basic Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star which they performed at their first concert in February. One of their selections included the Can Can by Offenbach. The seventh grade performed Brandenburg Concerto #5 by Bach and the eighth grade did a complicated number titled Variations on a Sea Chanty by Richard Stephan. All selections were performed with precision and I didn’t hear a single squeak or squeal from the strings and all students played in unison under their teacher’s direction. The high school’s performance was flawless and I thought I was listening to a professional production.

The arts are delegated to a second class position

As I watched the performance I couldn’t help but think how sad it is that school districts now feel the need to delegate music and other art programs to a second class position. True, our students need to know the basics in math and science but the arts can add so much more depth to our lives. The students who performed that night thoroughly enjoyed their experience and the audience showed its appreciation by cheering loudly. The other classes showed the same enthusiasm for their fellow performers that you might find at an athletic event.

What music taught the students

I realized those students had learned more than just the basic notes and how to play their instruments. They learned team work by listening and blending their instrument with the others. They learned discipline by watching the director and reacting to her cues. They learned self-confidence by being able to walk onto a stage without passing out. They learned to appreciate other types of music. And, they learned that all types of moods and emotions can be expressed through music from light and lively Bees a Boppin or the Can Can, or the silliness of Adam’s Family Theme to darker moods of Dark Catacombs by O’Laughlin.

I must compliment their teacher, Linda Stieg, who has obviously spent many, many hours working with these young people to bring out the best in them. She told the audience how she has stressed with the students the need for dedication, hard work, and setting goals. These are also tools which will help them in the future.

Music speaks when words fail

I sat there pondering how best to express the thoughts and joy of the evening when I saw a young musician walk by with a bumper sticker attached to his cello case that said Music speaks…when words fail. That sums it up perfectly.

Thank a music teacher

With all these positive elements how can the school systems justify eliminating the arts? A young person needs to experience many different areas in order to grow into a well-rounded individual. Work in the basics is important but they also need to develop their bodies, mind and soul with activities in athletics and the arts added to the core subjects. The next time you sit down to listen to your favorite music be sure to thank a music teacher.

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Rest in peace, dear Lib

Lib was a beautiful cat with a slick grey coat mottled with patches of buff and orange. She was sleek and lean with long graceful legs and paws and a delicate pointed face and ears. She was so slender and graceful she reminded me of a model wrapped in an expensive, one-of-a-kind fur coat.

Her official name was Olivia Orange named after a character I was playing in a local play and for the orange patches throughout her fur; but, we always called her Libby or Lib. I first saw her at the dog groomer’s office where she was snoozing in a patch of sunlight with countless people and dogs walking over and around her. I thought she must be a pretty laid back cat to allow all that chaos around her without moving. Little did I know then that she was just displaying her stubbornness to claim her spot and refuse to move. I picked her up and she immediately snuggled into the crook of my neck. The groomers all cooed and awed and said she had never done that with anyone else. I thought they were just telling me that so I would adopt her. She was among a litter that had been anonymously dropped at their doorstop so I decided to take her home.

Unfortunately her personality didn’t match her outward beauty. She was independent, more so than the average cat, stubborn, sneaky, and haughty. She was the queen of the house and she let you know it. She would walk through the living room with her head held high, stop and survey the room, arch her back and look down her nose at the lesser humans and animals in the room, then exit with a swish of the tail. She was very seldom affectionate or playful, she just couldn’t be bothered with such foolishness when a secret cozy nest under my good blankets was waiting for her. She couldn’t lower herself to chase a silly feather at the end of a stick and don’t expect her to kill a mouse. I once had a mouse in the house which I managed to shoo into the enclosed porch. I then turned Lib out on the porch expecting it to be turned into mouse burgers quickly. They eyed each other for some time and when the mouse decided to make a run for it by going straight under her belly she jumped five feet into the air. The only time she lost her cool was in the presence of cat nip. Then she would roll and drool like a sloppy drunk.

However, she did have one outstanding trait—she could count. When we traveled we would leave enough dry food and water to last until our return. When we came back we were greeted with her catnip mice in her bowl—one for each day we were gone! I don’t know how she did it but she was always right on the number of days we were gone.

Lately, her age was beginning to show. Her fur stood on end and was not as neatly groomed, she slept more often, and she had even become docile. Her time had come so yesterday we paid a visit to the vet’s office. There they have a special room for those who have reached the end of their journey. It is softly lit, equipped with comfortable chairs and couch, a big pillow on the floor, and scented candles burning. The walls are lined with pictures of some of the others who have passed through this room. She nestled calmly in my arms and when the drugs were administered into her veins she looked me straight in the eyes and then went limp. There was no pain or restlessness—just peaceful, calm sleep.

Rest in peace dear Lib. Hopefully she is now sleeping in a sunbeam and running through fields of cat nip. We will miss her aristocratic touch.

 

Below is a remembrance of Libby that the vet’s office sent. I love the story of the Rainbow Bridge and, someday, I will have lots of furry friends to greet me when I’m ready to cross that bridge.

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The hospital gown

 Modern medicine is wonderful. They can take your blood and discover many things happening in your body. They can also put you on a conveyor belt, send you into a spinning donut of a thing and in less than 5 minutes have a complete picture of your interior landscape. They can shoot dyes into your veins and have a clearer picture of how your system is working.

So why can’t they design a better hospital gown? Besides the obvious, that they are drafty and ugly, they are also not practical in a practical sort of way. I know they are convenient and the nurses can slip you in and out of them quickly and easily but it is another story if you are dressing yourself. As soon as you step into it, it begins to slip from one shoulder and then the next until you are standing there sans gown. Once you manage to keep it on the next challenge is to find those blankety blank ties and tie them with an IV in one arm and the other arm heavily taped from blood draws.

My room at the hospital was private with its own bath and shower. I took advantage of the opportunity for a shower before bedtime but had enormous difficulties dressing myself. Once I was squeaky clean I settled into bed for a restless night. At one point I woke and couldn’t move. It wasn’t a medical problem but a wardrobe malfunction. My IV line was caught on the bed and my gown and its ties were twisted underneath me to the point I couldn’t escape. There I was floundering and flapping like a beached whale. I finally managed to find the nurse’s call button and groaned, “Help, I’m trapped.”

And speaking of IV lines, the next time I will make sure that it is not started in the crook of my arm. If you think dressing with two bandaged arms was difficult have you ever tried to feed yourself a liquid diet with two arms that don’t bend? Another gown change coming up!

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