Military Songs: A Brief History

By Charles R. Anderson


Army symbolThe Army Goes Rolling Along.” Originally “The Caisson Song” and official anthem of the U.S. Field Artillery Corps, it was composed by Lt. Edmund L. “Snitz” Gruber during a long march in the Philippines. Gruber heard an officer roar, “Come on! Keep ‘em Rolling.” Gruber’s relative Franz had composed “Silent Night” and was inspired to write the melody for a new song. Serving soldiers in the artillery helped compose the lyrics and the song became very popular during WWI. In 1948, when the Army wanted its own song, they held a nationwide contest. Despite hundreds of entries over the next four years none was acceptable, so the Adjutant General’s office recycled “The Caisson Song” and renamed it “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”


USMC symbol“The Marines’ Hymn.” The melody for this came from an aria in Jacques Offenbach’s Genevieve de Brabant. “According to tradition, an officer wrote the first verse of the Hymn on duty in the Mexican War (1846-1848). Meant to highlight the various campaigns of the Marines, the unknown author edited the words from the Marines’ colors and added them to Offenbach’s melody.” New, unofficial verses are added with each Marine campaign.


Navy symbol“Anchors Aweigh.” This one was written to rally the U.S. Naval Academy’s football team. The Navy bandmaster from 1887 to 1916, Lt. Charles A. Zimmerman, had been composing a march for each graduating class. A Midshipman named Alfred Hart Miles asked Zimmerman in 1906 to write an inspiring tune with some swing to it for a football marching song. The two men wrote the melody and lyrics and dedicated it to the class of 1907 (Navy did win that year over Army).


USAF symbol“The U.S. Air Force,” originally the “Army Air Corps” tune was the result of a contest sponsored by Liberty Magazine in 1938. Out of 757 pieces submitted, this one written by Robert Crawford was selected.



USCG symbolSemper Paratus,” (U.S. Coast Guard). Both the motto and official song of the Coast Guard, the motto was adopted in 1910, and the words were composed in 1922 by Capt. Francis S. Van Boskerck. Five years later he completed the melody.


Happy Fourth of July; An Editorial

By Charles R. Anderson  (Note: The viewpoints expressed in this editorial are those of the author only and may not represent those of the Post or VFW.)


Although the United States broke with monarchical rule in England, our beliefs in ideals such Liberty Bellas individual freedom still came from there—going all the way back to the Magna Carta in 1215. Does anything remain of these ideals today? Among a fairly significant part of the population, very few it seems. In the U.K. most of the “Great Charter” clauses have been repealed or modified into non-existence for all practical purposes. The basic concept of a right to defend yourself has been written out of the law and bred out of the belief system of most people in that country. Look at this advice from a UK police FAQ Q589: “Are there any legal self-defense products I can buy? Answer: The only fully legal self defence product at the moment is a rape alarm. These are not expensive and can be bought from most local police stations or supermarkets. You must not get a product which is made or adapted to cause a person injury. Possession of such a product in public (and in private in specific circumstances) is against the law.” As stated in other legal briefings in the U.K, “The law does not recognise the concept of a ‘defensive weapon.’ You are not permitted to carry an offensive weapon—even to defend yourself. You may, however, provided it constitutes reasonable force, defend yourself with an ordinary everyday object, such as keys, an umbrella or a comb, provided you have them with you for their ordinary everyday purpose.” [italics mine] In Scotland recently, 11,569 crossbows, rifles and pistols dating back to World War Two were among thousands of air weapons surrendered during a police amnesty. Effective December 31, 2016, it will be a criminal offense to have an air gun without a license or permit.


How is the Bill of Rights working in the U.S.? The basic concepts of the Magna Carta have been corrupted in the UK to fit a socialistic, paternalistic government that forbids individual rights of self-defense. In the United States countless examples exist of changes in once-inalienable rights such as self-defense, religious liberty, the right to peacefully assemble, etc. Many of the principles embodied in the Bill of Rights are either under attack or already have been nullified by court or executive actions/orders.


In our country, a goodly percentage of the populace feels that it is morally wrong to defend yourself by owning any kind of weapon, particularly a firearm. Instead they say, “the police will protect you,” ignorant of the fact the police have no duty in law to protect anyone. Even the appearance of something like an AR-15 has the power to strike terror and misconceptions in supposedly rational individuals. Generations that have been taught to believe everything is about ME (the Me Generation) are unlikely to perform heroic acts in the midst of an attack. Perhaps this explains the tendency of victims of mass shootings to simply lie down and accept what is going down with no attempt to resist. Does anyone anymore still give Todd Beamer’s rallying cry of “Let’s roll” on Flight 93?


A few examples of how our world has changed:


Edward Peruta v. County of San Diego. Ninth Circuit Opinion. On June 9, 2016, the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled 7 to 4 that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms does not apply to any law governing the concealed carry of any protected firearm in public.


School rejects teen’s gun-toting, flag-waving photo. The 15-year-old country boy from Ringoes, New Jersey is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He’s a member of two state shooting teams and he serves as a United States Sea Cadet. A photo of him for a class project showed him holding an American Flag and a shotgun.


School sends sheriff to order child to stop sharing Bible verses during lunch.


A New York City man could be facing a manslaughter charge for defending his wife against a would-be rapist.


According to a Pew Research Center Study, “40 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 believe the government should be able to ban any speech that is offensive to minority groups.


Boykin bounced: Fort Riley cancels Delta Force hero’s prayer breakfast speech.


In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell no longer rings due to a crack. Will it ever, even figuratively, ring again?


First flag retirement ceremony held in 35 years

By Charles R. Anderson


Burning flagOn Flag Day, June 14, 2016, Ballard Eagleson VFW Post 3063 held the first flag retirement service in more than 35 years to dispose properly of worn flags that had been left at the post.


It was a windy gray day with a threat of rain looming, perhaps appropriate for such an event.


The flags were burned as prescribed by the United StateSaluting retired flags Flag Code. The incinerator device was home-made by our Quartermaster Harold Rodenberger from half of a 55-gallon drum mounted on a piece of salvaged aluminum from an old post sign with wheels added for portability. A raised grating supported the flags, while a healthy bed of burning wood provided the fuel.

Quartermaster’s July Update

Here we are at the start of another VFW year. The new officers have taken their positions and committee members are appointed and anxious to go to work. I know you’ve heard and read it before but I’ll say it again. We have our regular business meeting on the first Thursday of each month and a social every third Thursday. Help kick off the new VFW year by planning to attend regularly.


With the beginning of a new year we are starting from last year’s calculated base to make one hundred percent of our membership again. Every year we lose members due to some moving out of our area, some passing on to their reward and some deciding not to renew their membership. I know that last is hard to believe, but it actually happens once in a while so look around and see if you can bring in at least one new member this year to help get our membership back up to one hundred percent.


Your post is getting more and more active in the community. The newly formed Color Guard is practicing marching and drilling with our new M1 Garand rifles. Interested personnel should email the Color Guard Captain, Bill Hoeller, at [email protected] or call him at 206-632-3173.


Our redesigned website ( is up and running. When you have time give it a look. It is interesting and you may find some information you can use.


We are visiting more hospitals and nursing homes. If you would like to volunteer to participate in these visits shoot us an email, contact us via our website or call the office, 206- 782-8618.


Our new Service Officer, Gail Engler, attended the Washington State VFW Service Officer school last week and is ready to provide assistance to veterans and family members in our community who need help applying for benefits or who would like more information about what’s available. Contact her via the Web page or email at [email protected].


Two weeks ago on Flag Day, for the first time in over 35 years, we held a flag retirement ceremony in our parking lot. It was an impressive ceremony.


On Memorial Day some of our members visited the patients at the Seattle VA Hospital. We plan another visit on Independence Day, the Fourth of July, to visit with patients and pass out treats. If you are interested in attending, please call me at: 206-972-2135 or email [email protected].


By Harold Rodenberger