Today is one of my favorite holidays because it is like me – somewhat serious than most! The music speaks to my soul and can shake me to my emotional core. I can listen to those marches, medlies, and hymns over and over and over. And, I do, usually every year! Those that voluntarily defend our right to freedom have my greatest respect. Both my husband and I have parents who proudly served our country. I am honored that I’ve been able to thank each of them in person. I am sure being in the service helped to shape each of their lives.
So, what compositions are part of my favorite patriotic music? There are many. But, before I tell you, I have to disclose that I was a serious band student in middle school and high school, playing both piccolo and flute. Only the best flutists, when I went to school, were allowed to play piccolo in both symphonic (our highest level concert band) and marching band. I also played piccolo for at least two years in our town’s fireman’s band – which was mostly comprised of old band members, home from college for the summer, who could not give up their music so readily! So, much of my favoritism is based on songs I fondly remember playing while I was part of these groups. Many of the pieces take practice and skill to play well and that fact just increases my appreciation when I listen to a group like the National Orchestra or Boston Pops play them.
Strike up the Band,
Stars and Stripes Forever
Battle Hymn of the Republic
You’re a Grand Old Flag
The Overture of 1812
Washington Post March
Alexander’s Ragtime Band
Armed Forces Medley
America the Beautiful
This Land is Your Land
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Some of these tunes I heard last night on the PBS Memorial Day Special, as well as some other favorites that are apropos for the time, like Bridge Over Troubled Water (another all-time favorite song of mine). But, besides the Armed Forces Medley and America the Beautiful, I did not have my fill of our gorgeous, uplifting, and complex patriotic music last night.
Therefore, this afternoon I went to get out the two patriotic CDs I own that I return to year after year at this time. As I wrote before, they’ll be played multiple times from now through July 4th and into late summer. My hands first found the CD God Bless America, pictured here:
I never knew, until today, which of these two CD’s are my favorite. But, my preference revealed itself when I felt slightly disappointed when this was the one I found first! My thought was, “Oh no, where is the other CD?” I hunted further. Soon, I found it. Ah, relief! Now, I could go and listen to them both!
The second CD, the one I now know is my favorite went in first. As I write, I am listening to America the Beautiful. If you do not know the history of this beautifully descriptive song, you should read this recounting as told by a financial group (to which I have no ties) several years ago. Like The Star-Spangled Banner, the song is based on the observations of the person who wrote it. Absolutely, beautiful!
On this Memorial Day, instead of lamenting what we have lost in the last few months in what most of us feel are personal freedoms, let us be grateful for those who chose, and still choose, to serve and defend our country and the freedom we so often take for granted. These souls, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for the rest of us to continue to live as free citizens, deserve our respect and remembrance. As the traditional hymn Simple Gifts reminds us, “It’s a Gift to be Free.” Let’s remember that, in fact, “Freedom is Not Free.” – Korean Veterans War Memorial Washington, D.C.
Happy Memorial Day!