The Marine's Hymn:

Researching the piracy issue led to finding out more about the First and Second Barbary Wars. And to learning that in 1805, President Jefferson and Congress authorized William Eaton to raise a force against Tripoli. In Alexandria, Egypt, Eason assembled several hundred Arab, Greek, and Berber mercenaries, plus United States Marines, under the command of 1st Lt. Presley O'Bannon. They marched west 500 miles, with offshore support from three American warships.

On the 27th of April, they reached the fortress port of Derne, capital of the province of Cyrenaica. After 75 minutes of fighting, they captured it, and for the first time raised an American flag of conquest in the Old World. Their actions are immortalized in the Marine's Hymn, which begins, "From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli." An Arab ally, Prince Hamet, presented Lieutenant O'Bannon with the Mameluke Sword, which Marine officers wear to this very day.

So I looked for the best on-line version of the Marine's Hymn. My objective was that it had to have singing (not just instrumental), with good graphics, and with all three verses.

Here's the best that I've found so far. It has almost everything, including excellent footage of the USMC in action in Iraq. It does lack the second verse, but the reprise of verse one is excellent.

Bonus: Three versions of Battle Hymn of the Republic: historical movies; WWII footage; and in French (!), performed by the great French patriotic singer Mireille Mathieu, with Civil War photos.

And that led me Mireille Mathieu's wonderful performance of Le Chant des Partisans.

Mathieu has recorded many wonderful versions of La Marseillaise, but, at least from an American viewpoint, the most inspiring version of that song is this one. Get's me choked up every time.

Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I was somewhat disappointed to find that Mireille Matthieu's version of Battle Hymn of the Republic was just some totally different song, called "3 Billion People on Earth," to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
4.23.2009 12:38am
The link for "The Best" just takes you to a tiny image.

[DK: Thanks. Fixed it. I am a YouTube novice.]
4.23.2009 12:52am
John J. Perulfi (mail):
As a former Marine, I would clue you to a revised version of the 3rd verse from our beloved Corpsmen " If you ever looked on heavens scene you would find our sickbay crowded with those blank blank Marines"
4.23.2009 2:23am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Given recent feelings, its a wonder that people are willing to let a french song serve as the tune for the Marines Hymn. The tune itself was written by Jacques Offenbach for an operetta called Paris, in 1859.
4.23.2009 3:31am
When I was in the Corps (a long, long time ago), I was stationed at Camp Pendleton for a time. Every so often, there would be a large ceremony for a retiring Marine. Every outfit in Divvy had to send a representative unit for the parade.

So there we all were, a rump FirstMarDiv, arrayed in ranks at the ceremony. You didn't want to be in the first two ranks--those guys had to stand at strict attention for the whole thing. Well, we all were supposed to, of course, but if you looked at the ranks from the side, you'd see a noticeable relaxing of attitude as you went from front to back. I won't characterise the feeling as indifferent so much as unenthused.

After all the speechifying would come the parade. We'd all straighten up (somewhat); right shoulder arms; right face, forward march; column left march, column left march, and we'd pass in review. Now the music was always pretty much the same: something like The Stars and Stripes Forever to start, then The Washington Post March or some such as the formation came around. But the parade seemed to be always timed so that as the entire formation passed in review, the Hymn was played. And when it was played, I always saw the same thing: any looseness would fall away; the ranks would tighten up; the march would have a very pronounced snap to it. It never failed.
4.23.2009 6:21am
Titus Andronicus:
Exactly what about La Marseillaise is there for Americans to get "choked up" about? Guillotining aristocrats and nuns? Waging offensive war?
4.23.2009 8:30am
Reader (mail):
This is a great post - thanks.

Titus, Americans get choked up about a bunch of patriots singing soulfully over some shitty Nazis. You should watch the movie - it's a great scene. (Agree French Revolution was bad. Irrelevant.)
4.23.2009 9:52am
David Drake:
Absolutely agree about the version of "La Marseillaise" in Casablanca. No matter how many times I see it, I get a lump in the throat when Bogart nods to the band leader and my tears start flowing about the same time as the woman with the guitar's.. .

Titus: you are either being sarcastic or have no appreciation for American, French OR movie history. I presume the former.
4.23.2009 9:54am
Houston Lawyer:
While I enjoy a joke at the expense of the French as much as any American (I think Brits may enjoy them more), you'd have to be an ass not to want to stand up and sing La Marseillaise with the band in Rick's.
4.23.2009 10:03am
Tucker (mail):
For some reason, the Marine Corps hymn was my favorite song as a little kid. No Marines in my immediate family, my father and grandfather were in the Army.

This is a little bit of history that every kid ought to be taught. Knowledge of this event would have a big impact on a lot of folks' thinking about current events. (I just recently had an argument w/ a fellow (Harvard educated) who explained to me that the United States had never fought a war against pirates. Two seconds on Wikipedia corrected that, and seriously revised this thinking about our current problems.)
4.23.2009 10:04am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Tucker. Stop the presses. Are you saying facts changed a Harvard man's mind?
I think I have to sit down.
4.23.2009 10:27am
Re singing of "La Marseillaise" in Casablanca: The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA, just off Harvard Square (is the theater still there?) would periodically show the movie. It was a well established tradition that all in attendance, mostly undergrads, would rise to join in the singing, always with much gusto. Ah, to remember one's long gone youth.
4.23.2009 10:33am

Agree the scene from Casablanca is emotional, but even so every time I see it, it reminds me of Tom Lehrer's line in The Folk Song Army -- you know, "[Franco] may have won all the battles, but we had the best songs."

Kinda sums up the French over the past couple of centuries.
4.23.2009 11:20am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
On a related note, see my co-blogger Tom Van Dyke's discussion of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It mentions "God" quite a bit but was written by a Unitarian. More evidence that America's implicit public creed is a Unitarianism, a Christian heresy.
4.23.2009 11:28am

Re singing of "La Marseillaise" in Casablanca: The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA, just off Harvard Square (is the theater still there?) would periodically show the movie. It was a well established tradition that all in attendance, mostly undergrads, would rise to join in the singing, always with much gusto. Ah, to remember one's long gone youth.

And some guys used to go to the flick in tuxes, and when Rick said, "Here's to you," they'd all stand up with champagne glasses full and say, "And here's to you, Rick."

(Alas, the Square ain't what it used to be...but what is?)
4.23.2009 11:34am
EandJsFilmCrew (mail):
FYI, the version you link to as best is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing on the album "God Bless America" and it has a lot of stirring stuff in it. It featured prominently in a playlist that I made for a friend of mine who took the Oath of Citizenship last summer.
4.23.2009 4:55pm
Corkie the Dog (www):
Great post, thanks!

Corkie the Dog
"Not as Lean, Not as Mean, But Still a Marine!"
4.23.2009 5:19pm
Richard Aubrey: Tucker. Stop the presses. Are you saying facts changed a Harvard man's mind?
I think I have to sit down.
My late father, who after high school left for other parts and then only ventured back to the home of the bean and the cod briefly from time to time, was wont to say you could always tell a Harvard man, you just couldn't tell him much. My father's opinion of the open-mindedness of those educated at Harvard changed a bit when our daughter matriculated there, but then she isn't a Harvard man. (Movie recommendation: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, with Tommie Lee Jones on Al Gore as a roommate 40 years ago.)
4.24.2009 1:25am

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