Yesterday was John Philip Sousa's birthday, and he would have been 150 years old. Members from the group for which he wrote his most famous marches, the United States Marine Band ("The President's Own"), come to his grave in Congressional Cemetery every year on November 6. As it turns out, I have a direct view of the March King's grave from my front porch, so I was there yesterday for this rather special milestone. Special enough, even, to be covered by Michael E. Ruane (Foot-Tapping, Heart-Thumping Salute Honors Sousa, November 7) for the Washington Post:
One day 45 years ago in Japan, 6-year-old Seiichiro Takahashi was marching from a school assembly to the tune of a marvelous piece of American music he had never heard before. It began with brass, drums and crashing cymbals, and it skipped into an irresistible beat that was borne along by a thumping tuba. It was John Philip Sousa's famous "Washington Post" march, and the sound reached into Takahashi's soul and changed him forever.Yes, Japan. Read the whole thing here.
Now 51 and a businessman from Tokyo, he was happily telling this story yesterday as he stood a few steps from Sousa's grave in Washington's Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington, having traveled with other members of the Japan Sousa Society to salute the "March King" on his 150th birthday.