The official national march song for our Nation and one of the most famous patriotic songs in the United States is the “Stars and Stripes Forever.” It was composed by John Philip Sousa in 1896. It is a rousing march that is performed at events such as Fourth of July celebrations and played by marching bands in parades.

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was born in Washington, DC. He served as an apprentice in the U.S. Marine Band and was the leader of the Marine Band from 1880 to 1892. His many compositions gave him the title, the “March King.”

Although the complete lyrics written by Sousa are less well-known, many of us recognize the chorus of the song:

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.

“Stars and Stripes Forever” facts and figures:

  • Sousa composed the official march of the U.S. Marine Corp, “Semper Fidelis,” in 1888.
  • Sousa also composed the official song of the U.S. Army, “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” in 1917.

To learn more, see the Library of Congress site.