Down in the dumps? Listen to “National Emblem,” proposed as State March

By Guy Page

A Cavendish lawmaker who is a Democrat, July 4 fireworks expert and hang glider of 45 years has introduced H239, a bill to make “National Emblem,” a Sousa-like patriotic march written by Craftsbury native and first performed in Bellows Falls, the official State March.

Rep. Emilie Krasnow (D-South Burlington) beats time to ‘National Emblem’ in committee yesterday, Tuesday March 21. At left is sponsor John Arrison, in center is Rep. Ashley Bartley.

“Anybody who was ever in the military or the Boy Scouts probably has marched to that song,” lead sponsor John Arrison yesterday told The House Committee on General and Housing – the committee that gets many of the idiosyncratic bills like H239 because of its “general” duties. He then played a snippet of the memorable march written in 1902 by Edwin Eugene Bagley, a native of Craftsbury, and premiered by Wheeler’s Band of Bellows Falls.  By 1908 it had been published and recorded.

Editor’s recommendation: Stop reading. If you haven’t listened to the YouTube version of “National Emblem” shown above, do so now. Especially if you are in the Mud Season doldrums or are grinding your teeth over other goings-on in the Legislature. You won’t regret it!

Arrison said he got the idea for the bill after emceeing a Veterans’ Day Celebration last year. All the veterans raised their hand when asked if they had marched to the tune, but none of them knew its name nor its Vermont roots. 

So, why a state march? “We have the 40th Army Band of the National Guard, we have the VSO (Vermont Symphony Orchestra),” Arrison said. National Emblem is perfect for the summertime, holiday concert so beloved by Vermonters of generations past and still well-attended today. “We’re not going to supplant the Stars and Stripes,” Arrison promised.

The commander of the 40th Army Band is onboard with the idea, Arrison said. 

Vermont has a state insect, rock, flower, vegetable, song, and much more – but no march. He asked the committee to add H239 to a another bill or take it up next year. 

John Phillips Souza, who didn’t write it, declared National Emblem as one of the most important marches. 

One lawmaker asked if other states use “military marches.” Arrison said it’s not really a military march, it’s more generally patriotic. The Stars and Stripes, for example, is explicitly military.

H239 is co-sponsored by Reps. Gina Galfetti, Lisa Hango, Brian Smith, and Terri Williams – all Republicans. 

Categories: Legislation

8 replies »

  1. What a great idea. I remember, way back in 1983, when we had Margret Whiting sing “Moonlight in Vermont” to the legislature. It was her most famous song, but she had never visited Vermont before. “National Emblem” is known around the world and is played by many marching bands.

  2. Sounds great and a great idea. And you are right Guy just listening to it cheered me up. Happy Spring everybody.

  3. This brought back memories, we march to it during bootcamp graduation at Great Lakes. I also thing it was played at USS Iowa’s recommissioning, plus several change of commands.

  4. As an old infantryman, I’ve proudly stepped out to that tune many times. Works for me. Pass it!

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