Songs give me patriotic pride

Published 1:57 am Saturday, September 19, 2009

If you read this column often, you know that I am a pack rat. So is my husband. Tucked somewhere in just about every room in our house are books, papers and various memorabilia. Among those are patriotic items.

One day, while sorting through some old textbooks that should have been disposed of long ago, my hand fell on a dirty, red, white and blue pocket-sized patriotic songbook. My full name was childishly scrawled in cursive on both the front and back covers. It had a 1943 copyright by Robbins Music Company. The title was “Freedom Sings,” and printed under it was, “Price 10 cents in U.S.A.” Yes, that was in an era when you could buy something for a dime.

The back cover had a picture of a billowing American flag in color. Below it were the words, “Buy U.S. War Savings Bonds and Stamps Now.” To the left of that line, a little square enclosing a saying by President Franklin D. Roosevelt read: “We can, we will, we must!”

In 1943, patriotism was at a fever pitch. That’s what all the songs were about. Today we don’t hear a lot of patriotic songs, but that little book was loaded with them. On page 21, the title “My Own America,” jumped out at me.

As I kept turning pages, I noticed a song titled “Eyes of the Fleet,” that started with “Wing, wings, wings, over the Navy.” On a page next to it was “She was just a sailor’s sweetheart and she loved her sailor lad…”

For those of us who love, respect and look with pride upon our flag, there’s “Rally Round the Flag.” Among its lines were, “That’s the banner we love.”

Toward the back of the book I found one that probably reached back to the Great War (World War I), but I’m not sure. It was, “Put on a Bonnet with a Red Cross on It (And I’ll Meet You Somewhere Over There).” The gist of it was, the women could do their part for the war effort. It encouraged them if they felt “fit and brave” to pack their first aid kits and go and prove that they could do it.

Other songs included in the book were “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” another rally-around-the-flag song; “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean;” “Marching Along Together;” “Me and My Uncle Sam;” “The American Hymn;” “The Marine Hymn;” “The Song of the Seabees;” “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!” and “Captain Jinks.” Captain Jinks, I learned, was of the “Horse Marines” who taught ladies to dance.

I know that it’s been years that some of these songs have been in the spotlight; many have probably even been forgotten.

I loved the book’s patriotic flavor. For one thing, it started the memories flowing. I’m just sad that patriotism is not as vibrant in our country today as it was back then.