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Fort McHenry, Baltimore

The Story Behind The Song: The Star-Spangled Banner
In this story, find out how a captured poet penned the song that became the country’s national anthem
History, Europe, Geography, Military, Music, America

Spirit of '76

The Story Behind The Song: Yankee Doodle
“Yankee Doodle” may be a popular kids’ tune today, but it got its start as a song of war.
America, History, Europe, Music, Military

Union Soldiers

The Story Behind The Song: The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Discover how Julia Howe’s hymn helped inspire the North in its fight to reunite the country and free African-American slaves
History, Music, America, Military

USMC Memorial

The Story Behind The Song: The Marines' Hymn
This article gives you the stories behind the words—“From the Halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli”
History, Military, Music, America, Geography

Composers

Series: The Story Behind The Song
Through the history of popular songs, discover how history is full of surprising stories of people doing amazing things
History, Music, America, Composers, Military

History and Geography

Collection: History and Geography
Travel the historic silk road, explore European castles, and discover the long-lasting influence of ancient cultures on modern society in this journey through the past and around the globe
America, Europe, Folklore, Geography, History, Greece, Military

Civil War Soldiers

Collection: Civil War
Through songs and letters, explore the stories and people who lived through the American Civil War, including the relationship President Abraham Lincoln had with the music of his time.
America, Controversial, Military, History, Presidents

Fife & Drummer

Collection: America
Discover the multicultural heritage and history of America through explorations of immigrant life, the lives legendary pioneers like Lewis and Clark, the modern political system, and significant works of American music, including our National Anthem.
America, Blues, History, Jazz, Military, Rock & Roll, Space, Native America

Children in a Japanese Internment Camp

Grades 6-8 Lesson: Giving Voice to History
Students will understand a somber period in American history. During World War II, the U.S. government ordered more than 120,000 Japanese Americans to detainment camps.
America, Asia, History, Military

The American Flag

Grades 3-4 Lesson: Oh, Say Can You See…
Students will learn about the history behind the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Geography, History, Military, Music, Poetry, America

Casals at the White House

Audio Series: Art in Camelot: The Arts in the Kennedy Years
Through his words and examples, President Kennedy raised awareness of the importance of the arts in America
Presidents, Music, Military, History, Architecture, America, Visual Arts

President's Own

Audio Series: Music in the Military
Music and musicians play an important role in military life. From the history of "Taps" to the importance of the USO, this series explores the place of ceremonial, tactical and recreational music in the US military.
Musical Instruments, Military, Music, Jobs in the Arts, America

USA flag

Audio: Unpacking our National Anthem
Examine the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the countless ways it has been adapted by musicians
Military, Music, America, History

US Air Force buglar Jari Villanueva

Audio: Ceremonial Brass
Musicians have always played an important part in the military. This series explores not only the history of military music, but also the diverse ceremonial and entertainment roles of musicians in the military.
Jobs in the Arts, Military, Music, America, Musical Instruments, History

JFK in Berlin

Audio: Cultural Diplomacy
Even while the United States was entering the Cold War with the Soviet Union in 1961, the Kennedy administration strengthened their commitment to cultural diplomacy. This audio story highlights some of the important ways President Kennedy used the arts to help improve the image of the United States around the world.
Presidents, Music, Military, History, America, Europe

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Thomas Wentworth Higginson
"Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes."
Young Artists, Military, America

Francis Scott Key standing on ship

Arts Days: September 14, 1814: O Say Can You Sing?
Key was watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by the British when he wrote a poem he called “Defence of Fort McHenry.” An important battle in the War of 1812 was raging, and Key was among those aboard American ships in the Chesapeake Bay. Rockets rained down all night on the fort, and Key wondered whose flag would be flying in the morning light.

Imagine his relief to see that “Star-Spangled Banner” waving above the fort the next day—tattered but proud. The poem was set to an existing tune and printed in several newspapers. It became very popular and was often played at public events. In 1931, President Hoover signed a law designating the song as our national anthem.
America, History, Military, Music, Poetry

Schindler's List

Arts Days: December 15, 1993: Angel in the Darkness
People who went to see director Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List were surprised to find the movie about the Holocaust was filmed in black and white. But the surprise gave way to deep emotion as the story unfolded. Spielberg wanted to shine a light on the little known story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman active in the Nazi party, who saved as many as 1,100 Jewish people from death in German concentration camps by hiring them to work in his factories.

Actor Liam Neeson brought Schindler's character to life on screen, and the film went on to win seven Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Director. The movie—including its final scene, in which real-life people saved by Schindler’s actions, place rocks upon his grave—is deeply moving and has captured the attentions of millions of viewers worldwide.
Movies & Movie Stars, History, Controversial, Europe, Military, Tragedy

John Philip Sousa

Arts Days: November 06, 1854: Strike Up the Band
Everyone loves a good march, especially one written by American conductor/composer John Philip Sousa. Sousa was musically gifted in several ways: He had perfect pitch, meaning that he could identify notes and chords without any external references (like a pitch pipe) to guide him, and he could play many instruments.

He is best known for composing 136 military and patriotic marches. Marches were once used to keep soldiers in line during maneuvers; the cymbals and others instruments were thought to have an intimidating psychological effect on the enemy. Sousa’s marches, however, primarily served to entertain listeners and inspire patriotic sentiments. His Stars and Stripes Forever, full of cymbal crashes and piccolo trills, is the official march of the United States.
Composers, Music Legends, Military, America, Music

Uncle Sam

Arts Days: March 13, 1852: Say Uncle
Within the printed pages of the daily New York Lantern, a certain patriotic fellow made his debut on this day. You know the guy: wears a tall hat printed with stars, a pair of red-and-white striped pants, a white beard, a somber expression. Give up? We’re talking about Uncle Sam, who in editorial cartoons and advertisements over the years has come to be the personification of the United States. Here’s the back-story: A man named Frank Henry Temple Bellew was the first to draw Uncle Sam for the Lantern.

Bellew’s drawing was based on a real person named Samuel Wilson, who helped feed U.S. troops during the War of 1812 with meat packed in barrels bearing the initials “U.S.” It was meant to indicate government property, but the folks unloading the beef joked about “Uncle Sam’s” latest shipment. Later, a political cartoonist named Thomas Nast conceived of the stars-and-stripes outfit in which we are most accustomed to seeing Uncle Sam today.
America, Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Folklore, History, Military

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