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The Marines' Hymn (US. MArines)
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The Marines' Hymn
From the Halls of Montezuma 
To the Shores of Tripoli; 
We fight our country's battles 
On the land as on the sea; 
First to fight for right and freedom 
And to keep our honor clean; 
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze 
From dawn to setting sun; 
We have fought in ev'ry clime and place 
Where we could take a gun; 
In the snow of far-off Northern lands 
And in sunny tropic scenes; 
You will find us always on the job-- The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps 
Which we are proud to serve 
In many a strife we've fought for life 
And never lost our nerve; 
If the Army and the Navy 
Ever look on Heaven's scenes; 
They will find the streets are guarded By United States Marines.
Following the war with the Barbary Pirates in 1805, when Lieutenant Presely N.
O'Bannon and his small force of Marines participated in the capture of
Derne and hoisted the American flag for the first time over a fortress
of the Old World, the Colors of the Corps was inscribed with the words:
"To the Shores of Tripoli." After the Marines participated in the
capture and occupation of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec,
otherwise known as the "Halls of Montezuma," the words on the Colors
were changed to read: "From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of
Montezuma." Following the close of the Mexican War came the first verse
of the Marines' Hymn, written, according to tradition, by a Marine on
duty in Mexico. For the sake of euphony, the unknown author transposed
the phrases in the motto on the Colors so that the first two lines of
the Hymn would read: "From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of
A serious attempt to trace the tune of the Marines' Hymn to its source is
revealed in correspondence between Colonel A.S. McLemore, USMC, and
Walter F. Smith, second leader of the Marine Band. Colonel McLemore
wrote: "Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in
Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines' Hymn is now sung was a
very popular one." The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was
secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied:
"Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate
musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found
in the opera, "Genevieve de Brabant". . .The melody is not in the exact
form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was
taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who
has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and
it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song."
In a letter to Major Harold F. Wirgman, USMC, dated 21 October 1936, John
Philip Sousa says: "The melody of the 'Halls of Montezuma' is taken from
Offenbach's comic opera, 'Genveieve de Brabant' and is sung by two
gendarmes." Most people believe that the aria of the Marines' Hymn was,
in fact, taken from "Genevieve de Brabant," an opera-bouffe (a farcical
form of opera, generally termed musical comedy) composed by Jacques
Offenbach, and presented at the Theatre de Bouffes Parisians, Paris, on
19 November 1859.
Offenbach was born in Cologne, Germany, 21 June 1819 and died 5 October 1880. He
studied music from an early age and in 1838 entered the Paris
Conservatoire as a student. In 1834, he was admitted as a violoncellist
to the "Opera Comique" and soon attained much popularity with Parisian
audiences. He became conductor of the Theatre Francais in 1847 and
subsequently leased the Theatre Comte, which he reopened as the
Bouffes-Parisians. Most of his operas are classified as comic (light and
fanciful) and include numerous popular productions, many of which still
hold a high place in European and American countries.
Every campaign the Marines have taken part in gives birth to an unofficial verse. For example, the following from Iceland:
"Again in nineteen forty-one
We sailed a north'ard course
And found beneath the midnight sun,
The Viking and the Norse.
The Iceland girls were slim and fair,
And fair the Iceland scenes,
And the Army found in landing there,
The United States Marines."
Copyright ownership of the Marines' Hymn was vested in the United States Marine
Corps per certificate of registration dated 19 August 1991, but it is
now in the public domain.
In 1929, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the following verses of the Marines' Hymn as the official version:
"From the halls of Montezuma
to the Shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country's battles
On the land as on the sea.
First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean,
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marines.
"Our flag's unfurl'd to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun.
In the snow of far-off northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
"Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines."
On 21 November 1942, the Commandant of the Marine Corps approved a change
in the words of the fourth line, first verse, to read, "In air, on land,
and sea." Ex-Gunnery Sergeant H.L. Tallman, veteran observer in Marine
Corps Aviation who participated in many combat missions with Marine
Corps Aviation over the Western Front in World War I, first proposed the
change at a meeting of the First Marine Aviation Force Veterans
Association in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Many interesting stories have been associated with the Marines' Hymn. One of
the best was published in the Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper
of the American Expeditionary Force, under date of 16 August 1918.
"A wounded officer from among the gallant French lancers had just been
carried into a Yankee field hospital to have his dressing changed. He
was full of compliments and curiosity about the dashing contingent that
fought at his regiment's left.
"A lot of them are mounted troops by this time, he explained, for when our
men would be shot from their horses, these youngsters would give one
running jump and gallop ahead as cavalry. I believe they are soldiers
from Montezuma. At least, when they advanced this morning, they were all
singing "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli."
The Marines' Hymn has been sung and played wherever U.S. Marines have
landed, and today is recognized as one of the foremost military service
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