Patriotic music has been around for centuries. Music has been used to rally people to a cause or a war.
Since its founding American patriotic music has served to encourage feelings of national unity.
In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem “The Star Spangled Banner” in response to witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, during the War of 1812. The poem was later put to music and became the country’s National anthem.
Leading up to the American Civil War, both the North and the South created a number of songs to stir up patriotic sentiments such as “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” However, after the Civil War, the sentiments of most patriotic songs were geared to rebuilding and consolidating the United States.
World War I, the “War to end all wars”, produced patriotic American songs such as “Over There” by popular songwriter George M. Cohan. Cohan composed when he saw headlines announcing the U.S. had entered World War 1. A 1918 Irving Berlin composition, “God Bless America“, is sometimes referred to as the unofficial national anthem of the United States.
The World War II era produced a significant number of patriotic songs in the Big Band and Swing format. Popular patriotic songs of the time included “Remember Pearl Harbor” and “God Bless America”. Patriotic songs in latter half of the 20th century included “Ballad of the Green Berets” during the Vietnam War and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” during the time of the first Gulf War.