Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents, Rulers and Leaders: Hail to the Chief / The President

Unknown Artist: Hail to the Chief

Unknown Artist: The President

How cool is it to have your very own anthem? That’s what the U.S. President has with “Hail to the Chief” a fanfare typically played by a military band before his appearance and after four “ruffles and flourishes” played on drums and bugles, respectively. In true military fashion, there are U.S. Department of Defense directives that afford official status to “Hail to the Chief.” Having worked for the U.S. Marine Corps, I’m quite confident that there’s probably also a voluminous manual of policies and procedures that apply to the protocol and decorum of a Presidential speech and the performance of “Hail to the Chief.”

Songwriter James Sanderson (1769 – 1841) is credited with setting to music, in about 1812, the verses of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake.” Although the song is rarely sung today, Scott’s poem starts off with:

Hail to the chief, who in triumph advances,
Honour'd and blest be the evergreen pine!
Long may the tree in his banner that glances,
Flourish the shelter and grace of our line.

A self-taught English violinist and conductor of the Surrey Theatre in London, Sanderson wrote many songs for theatrical productions during the 1790s and early 1800s. The song's association with the President first occurred in 1815, when it was played (under the name "Wreaths for the Chieftain") to honor both George Washington and the end of the War of 1812.

On a lighter note, I also found a children’s song about Washington and Lincoln. I like little ditties that help kids (and even us older folks) remember little facts about various things. After listening to “The President,” you probably won’t forget that Lincoln was our 16th President. Or that:

The President … is in charge of the nation
Let's all … have a celebration
Let's remember … Washington and Lincoln
Without them, our country would be sinkin'!

There may be other songs out there that help us recall little known factoids and trivia about our Presidents, or perhaps even a rap song that just helps one remember the order of them. If it hasn’t been written yet, maybe someone ought to?

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