Independence Day: 4 Freedom Anthems That Shaped America

America is an ever-evolving place. What has been a constant since 1776, however, is the country’s fervor for independence–fighting for freedom in its many forms. Found in the many watershed moments America has faced since its inception, is music made to rouse the spirits of freedom fighters. Let us guide you through a musical history lesson–from the Revolutionary War to more contemporary efforts–below.

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[RELATED: 3 Patriotic Country Songs for Your Fourth of July Playlist]

Independence Day: 4 Freedom Anthems That Shaped America

1. “Yankee Doodle”

Though “Yankee Doodle” might seem a little trite by today’s standards, it was once a powerful rallying cry for the Continental Army in the American Revolution. It’s a little hard to imagine a militia earnestly singing this playful tune to a retreating army. Nevertheless, history tells us they did and it apparently worked a treat in getting underneath the Red Coats’ skin.

There was Captain Washington
Upon a slapping stallion
A-giving orders to his men
I guess there was a million

2. “The Star-Spangled Banner”

The fact that almost every country has a national anthem should say a lot about how integral music is in our lives. In 1814, Francis Scott Key penned the song that would eventually be adopted by the U.S. as its national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Now that the country had its freedom established, it was time to start reveling in the triumph. What better way to revel than with music? To this day, the opening trill of this song inspires patriotism to swell up in the hearts of even the most disconcerted American.

And the rockets’ red glare
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there

3. “God Bless America”

While serving in the U.S. Army in World War I, Irving Berlin penned “God Bless America.” Several decades later, it would become a secondary national anthem and a national cry for peace. Though Berlin was inspired to write this ode while his attention was turned overseas, it’s clear his sense of patriotism was a guiding force for him.

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above

4. “We Shall Overcome”

While the previous songs on this list were written in the spirit of pure American patriotism, “We Shall Overcome” was pointed inward. While it was originally intended to be a rallying refrain for black strikers in the ’40s, it has been used many times throughout the years by any group fighting injustice and equal freedom in the U.S. You know a message is universal when it can stand the test of time and be applied liberally.

Oh, deep in my heart
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, someday

(American flag flying in wind – stock photo / USA, Montana empty parking lot Big American flag. /

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