"The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day is observed next on Wednesday, May 14th, 2025 (294 days from today).

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The Stars and Stripes Forever

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day takes place on the anniversary of the first public performance of "The Stars and Stripes Forever," annually on May 14th.

What are The Stars and Stripes Forever?

The Stars and Stripes Forever, a song by American composer John Philip Sousa, was first premiered in 1897. The song is considered a quintessential example of the composer's music.

Sousa has composed more than 100 marches, the most famous of which is the patriotic The Stars and Stripes Forever. The track was an instant success, and from its publication until his death 35 years later, Sousa and his band performed it at most of their concerts. As with most Sousa rallies, The Stars and Stripes Forever begin with a short, catchy intro followed by three contrasting tunes with a variety of moods. The boldest of those tunes are re-enacted epically alongside a formidable piccolo solo in the finale. Although Sousa has put her own poetry to the music, this piece is more commonly heard in instrumental form. In 1987, The Stars and Stripes Forever was designated the official parade of the United States.

History of "The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day

John Philip Sousa served as director of the United States Marine Band from 1880 to 1892. The most popular music star of his day, Sousa was known as the "March King" in the 1890s. , and started his own band and toured the country afterward the band Marine. But at this point, he had yet to write what would become his most famous work.

In late 1896, Sousa was vacationing in Europe with his wife when he learned that his band manager, David Blakely, had passed away. It was while traveling back to the United States on a ship that he was inspired to write "The Stars and Stripes Forever," a song he later said was about the feeling one gets when returning. America. On Christmas Day 1896, music began to form in his head, and he wrote it down when he got home. He describes his writing process in his autobiography: "...immersed in thoughts about my manager's death and the many tasks and decisions that awaited me in New York. Suddenly, I began to feel the rhythmic rhythm of a band playing in my brain. During the entire tense ride, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing the tune over and over. I didn't put that note on paper while I was on the steamboat, but when we got to shore, I laid out the measure that my brain band was playing for me, and not a single note about it ever changed."

The parade opens with a lively intro followed by contrasting tunes called categories. Sousa wrote poetry to accompany the piece, but it is often played as an instrument. It was an instant hit, and Sousa's band continued to play it most of the times they performed, often multiple times during a concert. The audience often stood as if it were the National Anthem being played. Sousa continued to direct the march until his death in 1932. It became the official march of the United States in 1987.

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" is sometimes referred to as "March of Disaster." In theaters and circuses in the early twentieth century, it was used as a cipher and was played if there was an emergency. This is done as a way to arrange people in a calmer way to get out than to make an announcement. One example of when it was played for this purpose was at the Hartford Circus Fire.

How to celebrate "The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day

  • Listen to "The Stars and Stripes Forever." You can listen to a track by the US Marine Band or a 1909 recording by the band Sousa.
  • Read Sousa's lyrics for the march.
  • Join a community band and play the march or get some music and play it your own way.
  • Read John Philip Sousa: American Phenomenon by Paul E. Bierley.
  • Watch Stars and Stripes Forever, a biopic about Sousa.
  • Learn about the John Philip Sousa Foundation.
  • Listen to other Sousa marches like "El Capitan", "Panama's Pathfinder", "Hands across the Sea", "Solid Men to the Front" and "The High School Cadets."


"The Stars and Stripes Forever" Day has been observed annually on May 14th.


Sunday, May 14th, 2023

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Wednesday, May 14th, 2025

Thursday, May 14th, 2026

Friday, May 14th, 2027

Also on Wednesday, May 14th, 2025

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