March "Comrades of the Legion" (1920)
Immediately after World War I, Sousa was besieged by such a flood of requests for new marches that he could scarcely have fulfilled them all. One, however, took top priority—a solicitation from the executive staff of the newly formed American Legion. The request was filled promptly. Sousa was enthusiastic about the American Legion because it promoted 100 percent Americanism and because it was a veteran’s group. Little could have appealed to him more. On the first piano manuscript was this notation:
To the American Legion Comrades of the Legion
The title was changed on a later manuscript:
To my comrades of the American Legion
The American Legion March
When the published version appeared, the original title was used. By the time it was printed and distributed, Sousa was an honorary member of five different Legion posts. A recording of the new march was made by the Sousa Band, and half a million copies were sold in advance of the actual pressing. The sale was no doubt helped along because the composition was one of the featured numbers of the 1920 Sousa Band tour.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 46. Used by permission