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Celebrating America’s Veterans Today and Tomorrow

Pictured from left to right: John Philip Sousa II, John Philip Sousa III, and the March King, John Philip Sousa, Summer 1927.

As we celebrate another Veterans Day today, let us honor one of the many men and women who served our country with distinction.  Between 1917 and 1918 the music of the nation’s composers, lyricists, and music publishers was used to promote volunteerism and national support for America’s involvement on both the war and home fronts because they believed “the singing army, whether it be a fighting army or a working army, could not be beaten.”   The March King, at the age of sixty-two, offered his services first to the U.S. Marines and then the U.S. Army, but his offer to each military branch was turned down because of his age.  However, Captain William A. Moffett, commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center outside of Chicago, heard of the Marine’s and Army’s rejection of John Philip Sousa’s offer and immediately commissioned him as a lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve to organize and train naval bands. Sousa agreed to the naval commission with the proviso that he be paid only one dollar each month for his services and be given the flexibility to temporarily step away from his military duties as needed to complete his civilian band’s contracted performances.  Sousa remained an active member of the U.S. Naval Reserve until he was de-commissioned in 1920.  For his services to the Navy and the American government’s Liberty Loan bond drives he earned the rank of Commander of the U.S. Naval Reserve Band.

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