CLOSE
Getty Images
Getty Images

7 Songs for Inauguration Day and Other State Ceremonies

Getty Images
Getty Images

Every four years, the United States of America continues the Great Experiment and inaugurates a president. Music plays an important part in the occasion and festivities. To that end, here are some of the songs you’ll hear on Inauguration Day and other state ceremonies.

1. "Ruffles and Flourishes"

You’ll recognize “Ruffles and Flourishes” as the fanfare performed immediately before “Hail to the Chief.” The drums play the ruffles; the bugles play the flourishes. The fanfare was chosen to precede the presidential anthem while William McKinley was in office. There’s a hierarchy of importance to how many repetitions of ruffles and flourishes are played at an event. The president always gets four. Ambassadors returning from abroad on unofficial business get three, as do lieutenant generals. Major generals get two, and brigadier generals get one lowly ruffle and flourish. (Consuls general get none, making them the ninjas of the State Department.)

2 & 3. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and "Hands Across the Sea"

During formal ceremonies at which civilian officials of the Department of Defense are present, the band plays ruffles and flourishes followed by the final 32 bars of “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

If equivalent defense officials from foreign governments are present, the band plays “Hands Across the Sea.” John Philip Sousa composed both songs.

4. "Yankee Doodle"

When foreign leaders are welcomed to the White House, the military and State Department hold a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn. The president is first welcomed with ruffles and flourishes and “Hail to the Chief,” and upon arrival of the foreign dignitary, ruffles and flourishes are played, followed by the appropriate national anthem, followed by “The Star Spangled Banner.” Heads of state (e.g. the Queen) receive a 21-gun salute by the 3rd Infantry Regiment; heads of government (e.g. the prime minister) receive a 19-gun salute.

Following a review of the honor guard by the president and his guest, the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, dressed in the parade uniform of the Continental Army, marches across the South Lawn and performs "Yankee Doodle." (N.B. the uniform is predominantly red, as 18th-century military musicians wore the reverse color of the rank-and-file. The Continental Army wore blue with red accents, therefore the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps wears red with blue. The whole reason for this is, because before the days of radio communication, messages were relayed down the line by drums and bugles. An officer would need to be able to identify the nearest musician in a hurry.)

The only time “Yankee Doodle” is not performed is when the visiting dignitary is from England. Before the Revolutionary War, British military officers would sing “Yankee Doodle” to mock colonial soldiers. (“Doodle” derives from the German dodel, or “fool.”) After the war, the song wasn’t so funny anymore. There’s really no need to rub things in by playing it for the Queen.

5. "Hail, Columbia"

When the vice president is sworn in, he will receive four ruffles and flourishes followed by his office’s official song, “Hail, Columbia.” The song has a storied history, and its performance at inaugurations precedes “The Star Spangled Banner” by more than a century. It was composed for George Washington’s first swearing-in, and was originally titled “The President’s March.” During the 19th century, “Hail, Columbia” was the de facto national anthem, giving way to “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1931.

The chorus to “Hail, Columbia” begins:

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

6. "The Star Spangled Banner"

“The Star Spangled Banner” was adopted by Congress as the national anthem in 1931, and signed into law by Herbert Hoover. Like “Hail to the Chief,” the song started out as a poem—this one famously written by Francis Scott Key, who was inspired following the Battle of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. (The name of the poem was, appropriately, The Defense of Ft. McHenry.) The “rockets’ red glare” was provided by British ships bombarding the fort, which withstood an attack of Congreve rockets and somewhere around 1800 cannonballs.

Key set his lyrics to the official song of the Anacreontic Society, which was an 18th-century musicians’ club in Britain.

7. "Hail to the Chief"

The presidential anthem “Hail to the Chief” was inspired by the poem The Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott, with its title taken from the second canto:

Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!
Honored and blessed be the ever-green Pine!
Long may the tree, in his banner that glances,
Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line!

The poem was later adopted into a play, and composer James Sanderson set the verses to music, published under the title “March and Chorus in the Dramatic Romance of the Lady of the Lake.” Following a performance of the song in 1815 to honor the late George Washington’s birthday, the public began a slow association between “Hail to the Chief” and the president of the United States. Its first performance at an inauguration was in 1837, for Martin Van Buren. It wasn’t until Harry Truman was in office that the Department of Defense formally adopted the song to honor the president.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
12 Solid Facts About New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain
iStock
iStock

On May 3, 2003, the craggy rock face known as New Hampshire's Old Man of the Mountain tumbled to the ground in spectacular fashion. For a landmark that had been in the state's DNA for generations, its collapse was like a death in the family to some. The day after it fell, people left flowers at the base of Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch State Park as a sort of funeral tribute, and plans were immediately launched to create a longer-lasting memorial. So what was so great about the Old Man of the Mountain, pre- and post-crumble? Read on for the stone-cold facts.

1. THANKS TO NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, THE OLD MAN WAS ALSO KNOWN AS “THE GREAT STONE FACE.”

Although not explicitly named, it’s widely believed Hawthorne based his 1850 short story "The Great Stone Face"—which was set in an anonymous state that happens to look like New Hampshire—on the Old Man. At that time, the mountainous figure was already a tourist draw to the Granite State. Hawthorne described it as an “enormous giant, or a Titan,” with a “broad arch of the forehead,” a long-bridged nose, and having “vast lips.” Eventually Hawthorne’s nickname stuck, along with other loving titles like “Old Man” and “the Profile.”

2. THE "FACE" WAS ACTUALLY A SERIES OF LEDGES.

These granite cliff ledges, 40 feet tall and 25 feet wide, when viewed from the north at certain angles looked like a jagged face. Hawthorne corroborated this, writing in “The Great Stone Face”: “If the spectator approached too near, he lost the outline of the gigantic visage, and could discern only a heap of ponderous and gigantic rocks ... Retracing his steps, however, the wondrous features would again be seen; and the farther he withdrew from them, the more like a human face, with all its original divinity intact, did they appear."

3. HE COULD HAVE BEEN 12,000 YEARS OLD.

An 1856 postcard of The Old Man of the Mountain
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Old Man was first discovered and recorded in 1805 by road surveyors Francis Whitcomb and Luke Brooks, which put the landmark at nearly 200 years old by the time it fell. But it likely first formed when water inside cracks in the granite bedrock froze and thawed following the retreat of glaciers about 12,000 years ago. (This freezing and thawing process was what hastened its eventual collapse.) According to geologist Brian Fowler in a research report by the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, the lower ledge—or chin—of the Old Man is assumed to have fallen first. Once that support was gone, the rest of the rock fell in formation.

4. CANNON MOUNTAIN WAS SO NAMED BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE ANTIQUE ARTILLERY.

The Old Man jutted from a cliff in Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, within Franconia Notch State Park. Originally named Profile Mountain, it took on a new name since its granite dome resembles a cannon from select vantage points. There are even three sub-peaks, nicknamed “The Cannon Balls.”

5. SOME OF THE STRONGEST SURFACE WINDS EVER IN THE U.S. WERE RECORDED ON TOP OF CANNON MOUNTAIN.

The gusts measured 199.5 mph on April 2, 1973. While impressive, they were likely even higher since 199.5 mph was the limit of what the researchers' instruments could record at the time. The highest surface wind gust in the U.S. still belongs in-state, though, with New Hampshire's Mount Washington recording 231 mph winds in 1934.

6. A SERIES OF TURNBUCKLES AND IRON TIES WERE PLACED WITHIN ITS FACE TO KEEP IT TOGETHER.

By 1916, as it became clear the Old Man might not live forever, the first efforts to protect the rock formation were made. By the 1920s, a crack in the Old Man’s "forehead" was clearly noticeable, and residents who were worried about its safety used chains, turnbuckles, and iron ties to keep the crack from separating. Many of those metal rods used to hold the Old Man together were still attached to the mountain years later.

7. THE STATE EVENTUALLY SPENT A SMALL FORTUNE TRYING TO SAVE IT.


Julius Hall, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1957, the New Hampshire state legislature passed a $25,000 appropriation for the necessary repairs to slow the Old Man's deterioration. These steps included quick-drying cement and steel rods meant to fill in and fortify cracks. The rocky Band-Aids were maintained every summer.

8. THE CARETAKERS’ MAINTENANCE ROUTINES WERE METICULOUS.

One longtime caretaker, Niels Nielsen, took great pains to keep the Old Man clean since 1965. Nielsen would spray bleach on the rock face and in its cracks, then carefully remove moss and lichen in an effort to prevent cracks from spreading further. He would even clean out the Old Man’s ear with a garden hoe. When Nielsen retired, he passed the job on to his son, David. The face continued to be groomed until its collapse.

9. NIELS NIELSEN SAW THE OLD MAN AS A GIFT FROM GOD.

According to Yankee Magazine, Nielsen was rather enchanted by the rock formation. “I had sailed around the world as a merchant seaman, yet I had never seen anything like the Old Man," he said. "I don’t believe anyone can be up there and not feel the presence of God."

10. BUT EVEN NIELSEN KNEW IT MIGHT FALL SOME DAY.

Nielsen was asked by Yankee what would happen if the Old Man ever fell. “The Lord put him here, and the Lord will take him down," Nielsen replied. Research concluded its collapse was natural—that the freezing-thawing process and subsequent erosion over time caused its downfall.

11. YOU CAN STILL "SEE" THE OLD MAN.


Rob Gallagher, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The image of the Old Man has lived on as a state emblem since 1945, appearing on highway signs, on the back of drivers licenses, and on the reverse of the state quarter. But residents weren’t done with honoring the now-deceased rock face. At Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza and Historic Site in Franconia, special viewfinders and steel “profilers” at vantage points near Profile Lake offer a glimpse of what the formation used to look like.

12. THERE’S EVEN AN OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN FLOWER.

Old-Man-of-the-Mountain, or tetraneuris grandiflora, is found in the Intermountain Regions and Rocky Mountains in states like Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. It’s sometimes called an alpine sunflower and got its common name from the wooly hairs that cover its leaves.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
arrow
Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Take a Closer Look at the $17 Billion 'Holy Grail of Shipwrecks'

Feast your eyes on these new images of the treasure among the wreckage of the Spanish ship San José, often called the "holy grail of shipwrecks." When it sank on June 8, 1708, it was carrying gold, silver, jewels, and other precious cargo worth roughly $17 billion today. Now, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is revealing the major role it played in the 2015 expedition to find the San José.

The three-masted, 62-gun Spanish galleon exploded and sank at the hands of the British during the War of the Spanish Succession. It was carrying its riches to the Colombian city of Cartegena to finance the war. Archaeologists had been trying to find the San José for decades before it was finally located on November 27, 2015, during an expedition organized by Colombia, Maritime Archaeology Consultants (MAC), and WHOI. The multibillion-dollar treasure, which still sits nearly 2000 feet below the surface of the ocean near Cartegena, is just now being revealed.

WHOI's autonomous underwater vehicle REMUS 6000 was responsible for finding the elusive wreck. REMUS has been with the project since the beginning: The machine created the first side-scan sonar images of the site. After that, REMUS journeyed to a point 30 feet above the site and captured high-resolution photos of the ship's distinctive bronze cannons, which are engraved with dolphins. REMUS's documentation of this defining feature allowed scientists to positively identify the wreck as the fabled San José. (Thanks to whoever had the idea to put dolphins on the cannon in the first place.)

WHOI also released REMUS's photos of the wreckage, which show details of the horde, including ceramics and those famous cannons. "This constitutes one of the greatest—if not the biggest, as some say—discoveries of submerged patrimony in the history of mankind,” Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said back when the treasure was discovered.

The San José's treasure is the subject of a legal battle for ownership between Colombia and U.S. salvage company Sea Search Armada, which helped look for the wreck. In 2011, four years before the San José was even found, the court ruled that the booty belongs to Colombia, but the dispute is ongoing. Because of the legal drama, the exact location of the wreck remains a government secret.

Below, check out the newly released pictures for a closer look at cannons, teacups, and other ceramics.

cannons from the San Jose
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

pots from the San Jose
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

teacups from the San Jose
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

REMUS 6000
REMUS 6000
Mike Purcell, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


A mosaic of images taken by the REMUS 6000 depicts the whole site.
A mosaic of images taken by the REMUS 6000 depicts the whole site.
Jeff Kaeli, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios