John Philip Sousa and the Great War
World War I gave John Philip Sousa, always an astute businessman, several opportunities to reshape his image and rebuild his career. Sousa embraced first neutrality, and then preparedness, notably in championing “Wake Up, America” during his residency at New York’s Hippodrome. When the country entered the war, Sousa was acclaimed for his quintessential patriotism, and he enlisted in the Naval Reserve to train bandsmen at the Great Lakes Training Station. He even changed his appearance, shaving off his celebrated beard; and he joined in anti-German jingoism, writing a wedding march as a substitute for Wagner and Mendelssohn. By war’s end, he had recaptured the public imagination and rebuilt his legend for the years to come.
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