This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for November 6, 2017: The Next Generation of Mourning

November 6, 2017: birthday: John Philip Sousa

It’s the birthday of the March King, John Philip Sousa, born in Washington, D.C. (1854). His father was a U.S. Marine Band trombonist, and he signed John up as an apprentice to the band after the boy tried to run away from home to join the circus. By the time he was 13 years old, Sousa could play violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, and trombone — and was a pretty good singer, too. At 26, he was leading the Marine Band and writing the first of his 136 marches, including “Semper Fidelis,” which became the official march of the Corps, and “The Washington Post March.” In addition to those marches, he wrote a nearly a dozen light operas and as many waltzes, too; and he wrote three novels. But he’s best known for “The Stars and Stripes Forever” — which Congress made the official march of the United States. It was the last piece Sousa conducted; he died at 77 shortly after leading a Reading, Pennsylvania, band through it.