As a history geek, I love reading those History in the Streets plaques that line the downtown streets of many Maine cities and towns.

For those who are not familiar, the plaques give the history of the section of town where they are located.  For example, the plaque across the street from Augusta's Olde Federal Building gives a timeline of the building's construction and gives details about how the building was built.

As I read one of the plaques, located near Old Fort Western, I was shocked to learn that one of the most famous (and most patriotic) pieces of music was first performed in Augusta.

According to the Augusta Museum in the Streets and The Military Music Blog, John Philip Sousa's "Stars And Stripes Forever" was first performed at Augusta's city hall on May 1, 1897.

The piece was composed during the ocean voyage back home following Sousa's extended European vacation with his wife.  His inspirations included homesickness, thoughts of the American flag flying over the Whitehouse, and memories of his recently deceased friend and manager.

While the piece was originally performed in Augusta on May 1, it did not yet have a name.  Because of this, many sources list the first time "Stars and Stripes Forever" as being played publicly as Philadelphia on May 14.

Even though "Stars and Stripes Forever" is typically performed as an instrumental, the piece does have lyrics.

Some of those lyrics include:

Let martial note in triumph float,
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears, 'mid thund'rous cheers,
The banner of the western land.
The emblem of the brave and true,
Its folds protect no tyrant crew,
The red and white and starry blue,
Is freedom's shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

You can check out the entire list of lyrics here.

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