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Memorial Day: Celebrating the American holiday with music

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Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States on the last Monday of May each year. The holiday is designated as the unofficial start of summer, as well. Besides time off from work and school, picnics, and visits to cemeteries to honor the nation's fallen servicemen and service-women, it is a time to recall the greatest of patriotic songs that have lived on through the years. Ten of the most famous and best-loved patriotic songs in the history of the United States are linked to this article.

Memorial Day 2014: What is open and closed

After each title, the lyricist and music writer are listed; then, the performer or performers of each song video are acknowledged.

The Ten Best Patriotic Songs in the United States

1. The Star Spangled Banner was a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814; Key set the poem to a modified musical version of a ‘drinking’ song called Anacreontic Song which was written by Britain John Stafford Smith. Though well-known years before, The Star Spangled Banner became the United States’ official National Anthem in 1931 by an act of the United States Congress. Sung by The Cactus Cuties.

2. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a lyric written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861, set to a tune written several years before by William Steffe. Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

3. America the Beautiful was a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates in the 1880s, and Samuel A. Ward added the music to the words in the 1890s. Sung by Barbara Streisand.

4. God Bless America was written by Irving Berlin in 1918, then revised and recorded by Kate Smith twenty years later when the song and Kate Smith became very popular. Sung by Kate Smith.

5. The Stars and Stripes Forever, declared the United States’ National March by the United States Congress in 1987, was written in 1896 by John Philip Sousa, a Marine Band leader from 1880 to 1892, as well as a member of the Hall of Fame of Great Americans and an inductee into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Performed by The Marine Band.

6. My Country Tis of Thee is a lyric written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1931 and thereafter set to the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. Sung by Aretha Franklin at President Obama's Inauguration.

7. Semper Fidelis, the official march of the United States Marine Corps, was written in 1888 by John Philip Sousa, a Marine Band leader from 1880 to 1892, as well as a member of the Hall of Fame of Great Americans and an inductee into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Performed by The Marine Band.

8. The Marine's Hymn (From the Halls of Montezuma), the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps, was composed by Jacques Offenbach in the mid-1800s under another name and the lyricist is unknown. Sung by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

9. God Bless the USA written and originally recorded by country singer and songwriter Lee Greenwood in 1984. Sung by Lee Greenwood. This is the most contemporary of what are classified as classic patriotic songs.

10. This Land is Your Land was written by folk singer and songwriter Woody Guthrie. He wrote the lyrics in 1940 to one of his previous melodies as a negative response to God Bless America because he was tired of hearing it. Sung by Woody Guthrie.

For TAPS, click here.

Dedicated with love, honor, and respect for my Father, Fred Paulson (1918-1970), who served in the United States Army during World War II. His love of country and music are among the best things he shared with me.

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