This Independence Day

Last Sunday, after attending an organ concert in Southeast, DC, the friend I was walking with pointed to an unassuming grey house on G Street. “That was where John Philip Sousa was born,” he said. It makes sense that someone whose music is so indelibly etched in the national identity of America, would be born in its capital city. He led “The President’s Own” under five presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison. Then organized his own group “The Sousa Band,” and toured around the world, performing over 15 thousand concerts.This week, it’s highly likely you've heard one of his many marches, probably “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” which Congress named as the national march of the United States. It is music that somehow evokes the positive, welcoming enthusiasm that is the best part of the American dream. Music can speak through time in a way that a thousand political stump speeches never can. Playing it requires cooperation, not debate, and that every player set aside their differences and play together, at the same tempo, on the same beats, hitting their notes, rather than making promises they don’t keep. It’s a metaphor for the best way to live, in our homes, our communities, our churches and in our world.