Singing the Songs of the U.S. Military
Veterans Day is November 11, and is an American holiday honoring those who served in the US Armed Forces.
For years I was a member of a small women’s ensemble that performed for various community events on Veteran’s Day. At these gigs, after our regular set we would always end with the theme songs for each branch of the U.S. Military.
Those not in the service may not know that each branch of the military has its own "theme song" that can generate intense feelings of pride for veterans and family members connected to that branch!
Music is one of the best ways to honor someone, so if there is a veteran in your life send them a "thank you" message along with a quick video of you singing the song
If you’re not familiar with these songs, take a moment to learn a little about them. Music is one of the best ways to honor someone, so if there is a veteran in your life send them a "thank you" message along with a quick video of you singing the song. They are generally very short - most can be done in only a few seconds. It will add some personal touch and a little extra meaning to your message!
(If you want help feeling confident when singing, check out my online course Discover Your Voice)
For each branch I’ve included some interesting facts about the song, the lyrics, and a link to their official musical group (band, singers, etc). You can use these to learn the melody and make your recording.
THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG
The official song of the U.S. Army is called "The Army Goes Rolling Along." The song was originally written in 1908 as "The Caissons go Rolling Along." When the Army adopted it as their song in 1956, they chose updated lyrics.
First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And the Army goes rolling along.
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army goes rolling along.
Then it’s hi! hi! hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong;
For where’er we go,
You will always know
That the Army goes rolling along.
The Marine's Hymn is the oldest of all the armed forces official songs. No one actually knows who wrote the words! People guess it was a marine feeling the spirit around the turn of last century.
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Surprise! It's not "Anchors Away!" "Weigh" here means to hoist or rise.
This song has been the official song of the Navy since 1907! The chorus most commonly sung was added in 1926 by George D. Lottman.
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more:
Here's wishing you a happy voyage home.
OFFICIAL US AIR FORCE SONG
The air force theme is in many ways the most colorful of the anthems! My favorite lines are "zooming to meet our thunder" and "off with one helluva roar." When we performed this we used a version that replaced “helluva” with “terrible.”
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
Everything I can find says the official version is "helluva;" however, Here is the US Air Force Band performing a unique version of this song for the 80th Birthday of the "US Air Force Song." I notice they say "terrible" so I imagine either version is ok!
The US Coast Guard's theme is titled from their motto "Semper Paratis" (Always Ready!). Captain Francis Saltus Van Boskerck wrote the song on a "beat up old piano" in the 1920s Homer Smith updated the lyrics later, so his name frequently appears with the music. But he didn't write it!
We're always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be,
"Semper Paratus" is our guide,
Our fame, our glory, too.
To fight to save or fight and die!
Aye! Coast Guard, we are for you.
Here is their song, performed by members of the Coast Guard Band in a unique performance spot...!
THERE'S AN ORDER TO THINGS
If you hear this music performed in a medley, or if you want to play more than one song, there is an official performing order: Army: "The Army Goes Rolling Along" Marine Corps: "The Marine's Hymn" Navy: "Anchors Aweigh" Air Force: "Official U.S. Air Force Song" Coast Guard: "Semper Paratus" Keep them in order if you can!