Music has long been a way to help us process strong emotions about important events, not just for happy days like birthdays and weddings, but also for difficult times. During World War II, music took a patriotic turn as we first watched and then participated in the fighting overseas. Since today is a day of remembrance for Americans, I thought we could revisit some of the songs that helped us get through the war years.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Andrews Sisters, 1941
This is one of my very favorites. It has just the right amount of pep and optimism. I chose this video because the Andrews Sisters are fun to watch in action.
Remember Pearl Harbor
Eddie Howard and his Orchestra, 1942
Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, 1943
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)
Andrews Sisters, 1942
This was one of the most popular versions of this song. The song was originally an updated version of a 19th century English folk song that was used in a 1939 musical. The lyrics were changed when the war started, and the song became a huge hit.
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition
The Merry Macs, 1942
God Bless America
Irving Berlin, 1938
Originally written by Berlin in 1918, it was revised in 1938 just in time to be a big hit during World War II. Kate Smith was well-known for singing this song.
I’ve included two versions. The second one is with the Victor Military Band and you can find it here:
Johnny Mercer, 1944
Just in case you are looking for more…
The links above are to archive.org. Original recordings are uploaded so visitors can hear what they sound like. Be careful–exploring the site can be addictive! There are plenty more options there as well as songs from different eras to add to your playlist.
History on the Net also has a page with a great selection of patriotic World War II songs.